‘We want to provide a meeting place for students from different universities’

Huib Pols, Rector Magnificus of Erasmus University Rotterdam, on Leiden-Delft-Erasmus education

'By working together, we can offer high-quality multidisciplinary education. Our students will then be better prepared for the increasingly complex problems in society,' says Huib Pols. Pols is the Rector Magnificus of the Erasmus University Rotterdam and one of the three education portfolio holders in the Leiden-Delft-Erasmus Steering Group.


Why do the three universities consider cooperation in the field of education so important?

'Our education is complementary. By combining the courses on offer of the three universities, we can offer our students a wide range of varied, high-quality knowledge. “LDE” is not meant to just be a collaboration between the university boards; we also want to ensure that the partnership has practical effects by initiating joint education, for example. Our development of teaching methods is also complementary. Erasmus University excels at evidence-based education, while Delft and Leiden have more experience with e-learning and internet lectures (the so-called MOOCs, massive open online courses). In our Centre for Education and Learning, education specialists can exchange ideas on educational innovations. I expect this exchange to be fruitful and result in innovative, validated teaching methods. Methods that enable us to better train our students to be citizens of the 21st century.' 

Is there a common vision on education? 

'All three universities believe it is important for "Bildung" to become part of academic education again; in addition to expert knowledge, the broadening of knowledge and skills is also important. We want to train team players who enthusiastically share their knowledge and are open to contributions from other fields. In addition to the development of a vision, you also need to invest in trust. If you only participate in a partnership to benefit yourself, it won't work. You have to offer something to each other and avoid 'territoriality'. If TU Delft wishes to develop evidence-based education, we won't say: "You can't do that, because Erasmus University already specialises in that". Instead, we will share our experience with them.' 

Text: Angèle Steentjes
Photo Huib Pols
: M. Muus

What is the added value of the LDE education for students and society?

'With their multidisciplinary knowledge, the students will be better equipped to devise solutions to the complex problems of our society. Furthermore, LDE education provides a meeting place for students from different universities, where they can discuss various issues. In my experience, this leads to innovative ideas, which also benefit society. TU Delft scientists, medical researchers and doctors came into contact with each other at Medical Delta, where I was a member of the board. Together, they developed the Clinical Technology Bachelor's degree programme. This would never have happened if this opportunity had not existed.' 

Does the partnership provide more room for educational experimentation? For example, stakeholders are involved in the Responsible Innovation minor. 

'Involving stakeholders is something that Erasmus University and, I think, our partner universities have already been doing for a while. However, a multidisciplinary team of students and instructors from three universities solving the problems of stakeholders is a new phenomenon in university education. The business community has known that multidisciplinary teams perform better for quite some time. This is a breakthrough for education. Why wouldn't you try to learn from the experience of the business community? I am therefore very pleased with the fact that we have taken a major step towards a multidisciplinary approach together.'


Broadening minors open to students from other two universities

As of the academic year 2015/2016 the three universities will make 30 per cent of places in their broadening minors available to students from the other two universities. The enrolment numbers have now been tallied and 244 students have been given places in minors at both other universities. 

University/Number of students

Students from

Students from

Students from


Leiden University





Delft University of Technology





Erasmus University Rotterdam










*excl. TU Delft students in EUR health minor 

Read more


Leiden-Delft-Erasmus News June 2015
Leiden-Delft-Erasmus News June 2015