The Hague is growing: 9000 new students, new study programmes and a campus boulevard
The campus in The Hague wants to greatly expand over the coming ten years. There are plans for new study programmes and a ‘campus boulevard’ with university buildings and new student housing.
Vincent Bongers
Friday 13 November 2020

That was published in the Design Strategy Campus Den Haag Universiteit Leiden.

The campus now houses the Faculty of Governance and Global affairs. All other faculties except for Archaeology also offer programmes there. Of the almost 30,000 students enrolled in Leiden University, around 6000 now study in The Hague.

In 2030, that number should increase to over 9000, according to the strategy. The growth is mainly fuelled by two new bachelor programmes. One of these will start in 2025, the other in 2028. Both programmes will draw in around two hundred new students each year.

Which programmes these will be exactly remains to be seen. The university is thinking about ‘digital security, cybercrime, artificial intelligence, public sector economy and sustainability’ as possible themes.

Luring in local students

The university is hoping to draw in more local students. ‘For some bachelor programmes, there might be a market in The Hague for people who do not want to study in Leiden to due (cultural) distance’, according to the document. ‘We are looking into which, if any, bachelor programmes could be organized in the Hague. This could include programmes such as law.’

At the moment, five master’s tracks are in development in The Hague. From 2024 onwards, a new masters programme will be added each year.

Moving programmes to The Hague is a sensitive topic in Leiden local politics

Moving programmes to The Hague is a sensitive topic in Leiden local politics. For now, the plans are limited. Only the Law Faculty minor Economy & Policy is definitely moving south.

All these new students and members of staff the campus wants to attract won’t fit in the current buildings. From 2025, all research and education must be concentrated in one building on the so called Campus Boulevard. Last week , the university signed a statement of intent together with the city of The Hague to build the boulevard.

The Schedeldoekshaven and Prins Bernhard viaduct will be developed into an ‘urban boulevard’, with space for student housing, university expansion and a branch of the Koninklijke Bibliotheek. The university board is planning to use a plot on the Schedeldoekshaven now housing two so-called Terminal offices. This complex is directly behind the university’s Wijnhaven building.

In the best case scenario, building will start in 2023. But in all cases, the campus will need to look for new space as the university will not be able to use the Stichthage tower above Centraal Station from 1 September 2024.


The university board emphasized the plans were not definitive. ‘The strategy is a direction’, vice-chair Martijn Ridderbos said. ‘We will now start filling in details in a new implementation agenda. We will have a clearer picture of the financial feasibility in the second half of 2021.’

The university council has voiced some criticism. They state buildings are very crowded, and issue that is already overlooked.

‘The capacity of the buildings and facilities, and the availability of housing is a returning issue’, according to the council. ‘Due to the rapid expansion, university-wide issues such as workload, temporary contracts and lack of time for research might be even more pressing in The Hague. The council wants the board to get a clear picture of the current possibilities.’

Student housing

‘A just point’, Ridderbos said during the council meeting on the issue. ‘Continuing development in The Hague is only possible with ample facilities for students and members of staff. A large portion of those facilities cannot be supplied by the university alone, we need help from the city as well.’

A taskforce is looking into housing difficulties in The Hague, according to Ridderbos. ‘The ambition of the The Hague aldermen is to realize a thousand new student homes, but we need more. We are also in talks with the city regarding other facilities.’

In the statement of intent, the university states that there is a current shortage of around 3300 student homes, ‘with a a further shortage of 1700 more homes to be expected.’ The board will continue to talk to the council about these problems. The planned campus boulevard is also expected to house students.

‘There is a lot of confusion’

The university council has criticized the unclear position of the faculty and university council in The Hague. With six active faculties, the campus itself and a double role for Erwin Muller, who both functions as the FGGA dean and head of the campus, the council is not very enthusiastic about the current setup

‘In the different faculty councils, especially the FGGA council, there is a lot of confusion’, said member of student party LVS Marlene van de Velde during a recent meeting. ‘A lot of things that happen in The Hague end up at the FGGA council, but for the council members it is not clear what falls under their purview. The dean’s double role does not help in this regard.’

Rector Carel Stolker admitted the council and governance construction is complex. ‘We are considering changing the current construction. We always aimed for a simple division. Whichever faculty a study programme falls under, that faculty’s council is the one that has a say. For international studies, that would be the Humanities council.’

The rector admitted there was ‘a gap for campus activities’ that did not fall under any study programme. ‘We needed someone who could function as a point of contact. We could not call it a dean, that would be confusing. We thought about provost, but in the end we chose “head of campus”. That worked very well.’

That head is now Erwin Muller, but could also be the dean of a different faculty. ‘That would decrease the ambiguity’, Stolker explained. ‘ Now it’s a bit confusing “When is he speaking as head of the campus, and when is he speaking as dean?” We chose this construction because FGGA is a relatively small faculty. That leaves more room for work as head of the campus. The head of the campus falls under the purview of the university council.’

‘The position is a bit vague’, according to Bas Knapp of student party LSP. ‘Does the head of the campus or the university board take decisions?’

‘The board is responsible for the campus governance,’ Stolker replied. ‘The university council should come to us if anything goes awry. If there’s any ambiguity surround the councils, we would like to hear it. It has to be clear who is responsible for what.’