Universiteit Leiden

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Language policy

Target Audience
Employees | Students
Management and operations | Education | Research
Code of Conduct
Leiden University

The Guidelines on Language Policy set out agreements on the level of language competence of lecturers, staff and students, the language of instruction, the dual language of our communications and the language used within the University administration. 

Dual language university

English is the lingua franca of the scientific world. A considerable proportion of Leiden students and staff have an international background. At the same time, the University also has an important role in preserving and developing Dutch as a language of science. Leiden University therefore aims to be a dual-language university. We use two languages – English and Dutch – as much as possible.

Language of instruction

The language of instruction for each programme is determined by the programme department itself, in line with the University’s Code of Conduct on the Language of Instruction. The Code of Conduct further emphasises the importance of implementing the language of instruction consistently across all the component subjects. 

Language proficiency of staff

What does our language policy mean for our staff?

  • We ensure that our lecturers have a good level of English competency. Lectures who teach subjects in English have a minimum level of C1 for their English proficiency.
  • We also believe it is important for international staff to have a good level of Dutch: they are expected to have at least C1 level of Dutch proficiency. Other staff who have the prospect of a permanent position are expected to have at least a passive understanding of Dutch.  
  • For all vacancies, we indicate the language requirement relevant to the position.

Language proficiency of students

What does our language policy mean for our staff?

  • Students can count on their lecturers having good spoken Dutch and English.
  • Bachelor’s students can have their English language skills tested and, where necessary, take action to improve their proficiency.
  • International students can improve their Dutch language skills, with an online course before they come to the Netherlands and by following language courses in Leiden and The Hague.


What does our language policy mean for our communications strategy?

  • Information on a programme is in the language of the programme.
  • Management and staff/student participation are in principle in Dutch.
  • Communication with the public is dual language.

You can find on our language policy with regard to communication on our staff member website.

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