The introduction weeks for students will start these days. Due to the corona pandemic, these major events look very different from previous years. First-year students will mainly be introduced to student life online this year. Leiden and Utrecht, among others, will kick off.

Students from Leiden University and Hogeschool Leiden will meet online from Wednesday. After three days there is also a physical program for those interested.

The participants will set off in groups in Leiden from Sunday. Ten days are allocated for this, but each group is only introduced to student life for one day. The participants must strictly adhere to the corona measures, emphasizes Renout Spaans of the Leiden EL CID week in conversation with "People with a snot nose are sent home."

In order to minimize the burden on public transport and public life, a maximum of one hundred prospective students will be received in one day. They are divided into groups of twenty. "The participants explore the city in different ways. For example, from boats that can be kept at a sufficient distance", says Spaans. "There is also a walking tour, in which headphones ensure that participants do not have to be close to the guide."

This year there is great interest in the EL CID week. Last year, 3,643 students participated, this year about 4,000. "Unfortunately, in order to keep everything running smoothly, we had to close the registration."

Students participate in a silent disco during EL CID week in 2019. (Photo: Pro Shots)

'Free registration to encourage participation'

Other student cities are also preparing for the introduction week. For example Utrecht, where the so-called UIT week starts on Monday. "The main difference is that we largely go online," said spokesman Jean-Paul Matser. "And registration is free this year, because we want to encourage students to participate anyway."

Information markets are held online, but there is also a pub quiz and remote party. Three thousand young people are still coming to Utrecht, about a thousand less than last year. In the city itself, fewer and smaller activities are organized than usual.

It is true that the participants of the UIT week, as in previous years, are in their own group. They receive older students as mentors. "There is room to do things in the city yourself," says Matser. "But they have to adhere to the corona measures. For example, you can sit in a park with your group of music, as long as you keep your distance."

Most introduction weeks largely digital

A survey by the National Student Union (LSVb) shows that most of the introduction weeks will be held completely or almost online this year. The union fears that the bond between students and each other and their college or university will be jeopardized.

Only a few educational institutions have a largely physical program. There are also introduction weeks that are canceled due to the corona measures. Because it became clear in June which activities could continue physically, the programs are still being worked on in some cities.