Growing Greek interest in Leiden
The number of Greek students in Leiden is growing fast. The biggest Greek newspaper Ta Nea sent a journalist to see what Leiden has to offer to Greek students. ‘Leiden is not chaotic like our own Greek universities. Here we finally get around to studying.’
‘Why should Greek students study here?’ journalist Nikos Mastoras asks Jessica Brouwer, adviser on international marketing. Brouwer emphasises the international character and the diversity of English-language programmes offered in Leiden. There are currently sixty English-language master’s programmes and five English-language bachelor’s programmes. Caroline van Overbeeke, spokesperson for Leiden University, also comments that Leiden scores very highly on international rankings such as the Times Higher Education. The English-language master’s in Psychology attracts the most Greek students. Psychology is one of the most popular study programmes in Greece, explains Martha Triantafillou, Educational Attaché to the Dutch Embassy in Athens. Mastoras has already visited the universities of Eindhoven and Tilburg; Delft University of Technology is still on the programme.
There are at present approximately 1,600 Greek students in the Netherlands. In Leiden, their numbers are growing fast: 208 students in 2009, 339 today. This is partially due to the crisis in Greece, explains Mastoras. Greek universities are very chaotic and the situation has worsened as a result of the crisis. Both professors and students go on strike on a regular basis and as a result lectures are often cancelled. Mastoras: ‘The study conditions are terrible. Education is often given the lowest priority.’ Traditionally, Greek students have favoured the US and England. But in the last few years, the Netherlands has been gaining in popularity due to the growing number of English-speaking programmes and the fact that the tuition fees of 1,800 euros are significantly lower than in other European countries.
Three Greek master’s students in Psychology tell Nikos why they chose the Netherlands and Leiden. All three admit that the relatively low tuition fees played an important role. Eirini Kritikou notes: ‘In England, tuition fees are 6,000 euros a year. And the French and German universities do not yet have many English-speaking master’s programmes.’ Evangelina Thaslassinou chose Leiden because of the contents of the master’s programme. ‘The programme is interesting and Leiden is not chaotic. Here we can finally get around to studying. And we have to work harder than ever because the standards are higher.’ Kritikou mentions another advantage: in Leiden, students have much more contact with their professors than in Greece. There is still one item on their wish list. They would like to be able to do an internship in English; but even in this English-oriented country, it is still difficult to organise.
Mastoras is clearly not only interested in study possibilities. ‘The Greeks may not have much money, but we do like to party. What is the night-life like here?’ Brouwer tells him about the thriving student life and the many cafés. After the interview, the journalist is given a tour of the Academy Building by Willem Otterspeer, Professor of University History. Mastoras is impressed when he sees the Senate Room where a PhD defence is just coming to an end, and then again in the hall where he meets the Beadle in full regalia. His conclusion: ‘Leiden has a long tradition and it is a lively student town. It’s nice that the buildings are spread all over town, this actually makes the whole town into one big campus.’
(18 April 2013)