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Online Debate

Online Debate

I take a sip of Glühwein, trying to recover from today's online debate. And I don't add the 'online' to remind everyone of the lockdown we're still (again?) in - no one needs a reminder of that. Instead, I emphasize the online nature of the debate because that's the culprit that turned my passionate, convincing arguments int...

EMDR can elicit false memories

EMDR can elicit false memories

The GGZ views EMDR to be one of the best trauma treatments at this time, it does have an awkward side effect: it can elicit false memories. This appeared from the PhD research by Maastricht forensic psychologist Sanne Houben. 

Curfew likely to affect exam schedules

THE NETHERLANDS. Pending approval by the House of Representatives later today, there will be a curfew in the Netherlands between 20.30 and 4.30, until 9 February. Universities and students continue to hope that an exception will be made for exams scheduled in the evening.

Senate picks apart law against anglicisation of higher education

THE NETHERLANDS. Are we creating a paper tiger? And why should the government even get involved in such an issue? The Dutch Senate has voiced serious reservations about a new law that is intended to stop the anglicisation of higher education in the Netherlands.
Liveblog: UM and the corona crisis

Liveblog: UM and the corona crisis

WED 20 JAN -Stricter measures, curfew The cabinet led by Mark Rutte has announced that it wants to introduce a curfew from 8:30 PM to 4:30 AM. For the introduction of this measure, the cabinet depends on the consent of the Tweede Kamer (Lower House).  Furthermore, a household may immediately receive a maximum of one person per day....

Students: more drug use and financial worries due to Covid

THE NETHERLANDS. They are losing their jobs or getting their hours cut – nearly one in three students are struggling with financial worries during the coronavirus crisis, a survey conducted among 1,250 students reveals. Substance abuse is also on the rise.
Executive Board deviates from LOWI opinion on professor

Executive Board deviates from LOWI opinion on professor

MAASTRICHT. Did a UM professor of Cardiology commit a violation of scientific integrity or didn’t she? According to the Netherlands Board on Research Integrity (LOWI), she did – at least on one of the many points raised by the complainant, a PhD student. The Executive Board has decided not to act on this LOWI opinion, although the ...

English-language teaching: the show must go on

THE NETHERLANDS. In the eyes of the government, there are five good reasons for maintaining English-language teaching in higher education. Study programmes will have to meet at least two of the five conditions or switch to the Dutch language.
Best for science?

Best for science?

Just before Christmas the Dutch Research Council announced that there would be no extension of the January deadline for their Dutch Research Agenda funding scheme. Damn. Who does not like an extension? This extension was especially desired by many applicants recently thrust into the sleep-destroying care-work balance of the second total lockdown. A...

Lockdown, son of sixteen months and pregnant: “I accept that I can publish less at the moment”

Lockdown, son of sixteen months and pregnant: “I accept that I can publish less at the moment”

Since the lockdown in March, she has only been to the faculty a couple of times, to print or collect something, and once for a meeting. She hadn’t planned it that way. Aline Sierp, Assistant Professor of European Studies, had wanted to come to the campus every week from September 2020.

Now that the government has collapsed...

THE NETHERLANDS. The Dutch government was toppled Friday by the child benefits scandal. This will have repercussions on higher education because all kinds of draft legislation will be put on the shelf. What, for example, will happen to lotteries for popular study programmes?

Rapid testing for coronavirus to be trialled in higher education

NETHERLANDS. The lockdown will last at least three more weeks. The Ministry of Education wants to roll out rapid testing of students in a number of cities as part of a trial to see whether in-class teaching will be possible in the near future. Groningen will get the ball rolling next week.
“When I’m on the phone with a friend, we talk about anything but COVID”

“When I’m on the phone with a friend, we talk about anything but COVID”

“When was the last time you went outside?” When her mother asked her this, first-year student of Psychology Maike Prenzyna was surprised to realise it had been two weeks. “Weekdays, weekend days, mornings, afternoons, evenings – everything feels the same. I go to sleep when it’s dark outside, but that’s about it....
“Research is a struggle that doesn’t always end well”

“Research is a struggle that doesn’t always end well”

Chic conferences, polished presentations and glossy journals. The scientific world seems like one big success story. ‘Seems’, because reality, of course, is different. In this series, Observant will look for the mistakes, the setbacks, the slip-ups, the unexpected turns. Because those too, or maybe even especially, are science...
Students create sustainability guide for Maastricht

Students create sustainability guide for Maastricht

MAASTRICHT. Students from Maastricht for Climate have set up a website that guides readers through a more sustainable life. From general information – what can people do against climate change – to specific tips, such as where to buy sustainable clothing in Maastricht. The website will be launched on Monday, 18 January and will be both ...
Universities lower the standard for BSA

Universities lower the standard for BSA

NETHERLANDS/MAASTRICHT. In view of the corona crisis and the recently extended lockdown, the 14 Dutch universities, including Maastricht University, are nevertheless lowering the standard for binding study recommendations (BSA) by 10 to 15 percent this academic year.
Extended lockdown: education period 4 online, dies celebration adjusted

Extended lockdown: education period 4 online, dies celebration adjusted

MAASTRICHT. Since the Netherlands will stay in lockdown until at least 9 February, Maastricht University has decided that education will continue to take place online in period 4. The program for the Dies Natalis - the 45th anniversary of Maastricht University - has been thoroughly stripped down.
Literature discussions on twitter

Literature discussions on twitter

​Bart Penders, Associate Professor of Metamedica at the Faculty of Health Medicine and Life Sciences (FHML), misses the informal chats at work, with colleagues, but also with students. About how things are going, but also about professional literature. But this period also has positive aspects. Penders spends more time with his daughters (8 and 6 y...

Student representatives call on universities for leniency in BSAs

THE NETHERLANDS/MAASTRICHT. First year students are already under enough pressure. Don’t leave them out in the cold: lower the threshold for issuing binding study recommendations (BSA) to students who are not on course to pass first year. That’s the message sent by student representatives of eleven universities to their executive boards...
Packing for Madrid

Packing for Madrid

The attentive reader might remember that I, foolishly or bravely, have decided to go on a semester abroad in less than three weeks to Madrid, Spain. The preparations have been wonderful. To be fair, that's largely because I have yet to do the heavy lifting, literally, and most of my preparation until now consisted of watching youtube videos and...

No new vice rector of education

MAASTRICHT. The post of vice rector of education will not be filled again, says rector Rianne Letschert. Vice rector Harm Hospers retired on 1 January 2021.
"When I study in my room all day, I go crazy"

"When I study in my room all day, I go crazy"

MAASTRICHT. It is Tuesday, January 12, around one o'clock. Location: the entrance to the university library in the city center. The German Lennart Buggert, pre-master student of European Studies on Society, Science and Technology, is very focused at his phone. “I have my social media moment,” he laughs. "It’s not fixed in...
InSciTe helps researchers convert their findings into a product

InSciTe helps researchers convert their findings into a product

How do you solve the shortage of cornea donors? How do you develop material for implants that the body will not reject? Five years ago, Maastricht University and four other parties founded the knowledge institute Chemelot InSciTe (Institute for Science and Technology). Exactly one year ago, the institute moved to Maastricht, close to MUMC+ and the ...
"Everyone listens to my dad, not because we're afraid of him, but out of respect"

"Everyone listens to my dad, not because we're afraid of him, but out of respect"

Towards the end of the interview, first-year student of Health Sciences Hadeel (pronounced “Adele”) Khawatmy casually reveals that she studies seven (!) days per week. “I get eight hours of sleep, I see my family when we eat, and I spend the rest of the time studying.” This includes evenings and weekends. She doesn’t ...
Is that hope?

Is that hope?

The nightmare called 2020 is over and we survived. What a year! I don't know about you, but I think the two things I talked and thought about the most in the past year are Trump and COVID-19. No day passed without me glued to my news app anxiously looking for the next headline, the next crazy Trump tweet or new corona numbers. 2021 seemed...

First steps towards new participation bodies

THE NETHERLANDS. The Dutch House of Representatives wants to see new regulations for participation bodies at institutes of higher education. Researchers, students and unions are taking advantage of this opportunity to submit their own proposals.
High-tech artificial bone with stem cells prevents leg amputation

High-tech artificial bone with stem cells prevents leg amputation

An amputation is no longer the only remedy in some extremely complicated broken bones. For the first time in the Netherlands, researchers and surgeons from Maastricht have provided a patient with a printed implant together with his own stem cells. The patient is already up and about again, walking without the use of crutches.

Only a handful of students on campus

MAASTRICHT. No tutorials, no lectures, no crowds in the corridors or in the mensa. It is quiet in the university buildings. Employees must work from home as much as possible, students have no access to the buildings. Although there are exceptions to the last rule.

International student with technology or IT aspirations? Welcome to the Netherlands!

THE NETHERLANDS. The Dutch government wants to recruit students from all over the world to come to the Netherlands to study technology and IT, two sectors plagued by shortages of skilled workers.
A talented improviser who kept spirits up during COVID-19

A talented improviser who kept spirits up during COVID-19

MAASTRICHT. No, she doesn’t make the exams herself and she doesn’t transport the piles of paper to the MECC either, but for everything else that has to do with exams in one of the large halls, you need to speak to Anja Ronken. She is the central exams co-ordinator at Maastricht University and obviously she does that so well that it earn...
“If I panic, things definitely won’t get done”

“If I panic, things definitely won’t get done”

When the lockdown was announced halfway through March 2020 because of COVID-19, it wasn’t just education that went online, from one day to the next, but also the exams. Tineke de Beaumont, functional manager of digital exams at Maastricht University, really had to pull out all the stops. She did that so well that she can now pick up one of th...

Dreaming of 2021

Dreaming of 2021

It's the magic of all new years to create an atmosphere of hope and ambition. A belief that everything will change for the better, that to-do lists will finally be finished and that dreams will come true. 2021 specifically is promising more than any year before it. And so I lie in bed, hitting the snooze button again and again just to hold on a...

Martin Paul on the end of the Erasmus grant by the UK: “a great loss”

Martin Paul on the end of the Erasmus grant by the UK: “a great loss”

MAASTRICHT. The British are quitting the Erasmus + exchange programme. “A peculiar step,” says Martin Paul, President of Maastricht University. A step that he - just like his colleagues at British universities - did not see coming. There is a leniency regulation for students who had already arranged their exchange to the country before ...

Brexit deal: yes to European research but no more Erasmus scholarships for British students

EUROPE/UK. The European Union and the United Kingdom struck an eleventh-hour Brexit deal at the end of December. The Brits will continue to contribute to the European research budget but are pulling out of the Erasmus+ exchange programme.

Diversity at the university: “Without hard data we'll never get there”

THE NETHERLANDS. "More diversity?” In academic circles this phrase often still means “more women”, says Saskia Bonjour, political scientist and member of The Young Academy. Too little is being done for other target groups.
Tijden

Tijden

At first, it looked like a cyberattack against UM would give 2020 its basic disastrous shape. For most of the world, the coronavirus served that purpose. Yet for me and my colleagues at IDS (Institute for Data Science), the year was colored by a tragedy of our own.  During the fall of 2019, I worked on a grant with a postdoctoral researcher...

“I enjoy being alone more than I thought I would”

“I enjoy being alone more than I thought I would”

What do you do when a student mutes your voice in order to listen to music? “Remain empathic and calm,” says Eline Schmeets, PhD researcher at Maastricht working on Europe and lecturer at University College Maastricht. Online education has its own set of challenges. Still, she likes working from home. “A more pleasant, gentler rhy...
RIVM director Jaap van Dissel to receive honorary doctorate from UM

RIVM director Jaap van Dissel to receive honorary doctorate from UM

MAASTRICHT. Jaap van Dissel, director of the Netherlands National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) and professor of internal medicine at Leiden University, will receive an honorary doctorate from Maastricht University during the Dies celebrations on Friday 29 January. The doctorate is being awarded because ...

UM will be using reserves in 2021

MAASTRICHT. Maastricht University expects to spend nearly 11 million euros more next year than it will receive. This is stated in the 2021 budget. UM is not going to get into debt, but is relying on specially designated money boxes.

UM is switching to online; buildings closed

MAASTRICHT. Maastricht University, like the rest of educational institutions in the Netherlands, will 'close' due to rising Covid-19 infections. Education is now completely online, at least until the end of the third block (end of January).
 “I had only one goal: telling the story of what had happened there on Brunssummerheide”

“I had only one goal: telling the story of what had happened there on Brunssummerheide”

Thursday 8 October 2020, the Court of Maastricht. Two public prosecutors – one of whom is Dave Mattheijs – are presenting their closing arguments, arguing why the accused Jos B. should be sent to prison for years. “A highlight”, reflects Mattheijs. “So much had been said about Nicky Verstappen’s case in the press...
“I’m not a fun partner right now, and it eats at me”

“I’m not a fun partner right now, and it eats at me”

Mark Vluggen, director of the bachelor’s programmes at the School of Business and Economics, has been in crisis mode for over a year. It all started in November 2019 with civil protests in Chile. Anxious SBE students on exchange asked if they could come back home. Not much later, similar requests arrived from Hong Kong, where protests had esc...
“A publisher might have put the celebrity involved on the cover, but to me, all stories are equally important”

“A publisher might have put the celebrity involved on the cover, but to me, all stories are equally important”

2020 was a turbulent year for many people, including Chahinda Ghossein, cardiologist in training at Maastricht University Medical Centre+. But, she says, “it was also successful. I ticked a few items off my bucket list.” Number one by a wide margin was publishing Queen of Hearts, a book on the power of vulnerability. In it, women open u...
European grant for UM neuroscientist

European grant for UM neuroscientist

MAASTRICHT/NETHERLANDS. UM neuroscientist Federico de Martino has managed to obtain one of the 29 consolidator grants, which were allocated to the Netherlands by the European Research Council (ERC). With about 2 million euro each, our country comes in after Germany, the United Kingdom and France, just like last year.
“If I call on people to work on Christmas, I have to be there myself as well”

“If I call on people to work on Christmas, I have to be there myself as well”

No, 2020 was certainly not an easy year, admits Nick Bos, vice chair of the Executive Board. But – barely a minute into the interview – he also says that he doesn’t want this to be the story of a board member complaining about long working days and high work pressure. On the contrary. “I realise all too well that I&rsqu...

More women in management at universities

THE NETHERLANDS/MAASTRICHT. The number of women in managerial positions at universities in the Netherlands has increased in the past three years, according to a new count by the Dutch Network of Women Professors (LNVH).

Letschert: Twitter storm about use of retirees “blown out of proportion”

MAASTRICHT. Is Maastricht University going to use retired lecturers as volunteers to mark exams and supervise theses? This is what a University Council committee asked rector Rianne Letschert last Wednesday.

Students hardly appeal to UM’s Covid-19 leniency regulation

MAASTRICHT. They graduated later than planned or have suffered a delay because the education programme had to be adapted because of Covid-19. A total of 27 students have recently appealed to Maastricht University’s Covid-19 leniency regulation. Fifteen requests were accepted.
A year of loneliness and solidarity

A year of loneliness and solidarity

​Vera Schriebl (26), master’s student in the Medical Doctor-Clinical Researcher programme, was one of the medical students who signed up to help out at the hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the past year, she learnt a lot about being a doctor, but also about herself. Her 2020 in a nutshell: guilt, loneliness, work experience and grati...
Maastricht medication for persistent COVID-19 symptoms

Maastricht medication for persistent COVID-19 symptoms

CARIM researchers are experimenting with two medicines that may mitigate persistent symptoms of COVID-19 patients. The UM has already obtained a patent for one of the medicines.
“You have to have the guts to stand on the edge of life and shiver"

“You have to have the guts to stand on the edge of life and shiver"

Was it 8:30 PM? 9 PM? He had no idea. It was mid-September, it was getting dark, and because he didn’t have a torch or a phone on him, he crawled into his sleeping bag. He had only just settled down under the open sky when the forest around him came to life. He heard wild boar, deer, an owl. All his senses were on high alert. That’s whe...
 The Panther, aka. me

The Panther, aka. me

His gaze against the sweeping of the bars has grown so weary, it can hold no more. To him, there seem to be a thousand bars and back behind those thousand bars no world. ~ The Panther, Rainer Maria Rilke, translated by Stanley Appelbaum   I’ve always had an unexplainable love for Rainer Maria Rilke’s poem The Pant...

HR director leaves prematurely

HR director leaves prematurely

MAASTRICHT. Antoon Vugts is leaving as director of Human Resources at Maastricht University. The ‘road to improvement’ upon which he embarked three and a half years ago has seen little progress, the Executive Board reported in an internal announcement to the university community. After “very enervating“ years and a recent &l...
The St. Nicolas-load

The St. Nicolas-load

Last week, for the first time since June, I went away for a few days for work. Upon return, my youngest daughter announced that she was going to place her shoe in front of the chimney. Saint Nicolas is in the country and brings young kids a small gift in their shoe. But for my 11-year-old, it is also still lucrative to believe in Saint Nicolas. ...

“I feel more like a machine than a lecturer”

“I feel more like a machine than a lecturer”

MAASTRICHT. Work pressure has been a theme at Maastricht University for years. But since the start of COVID-19, it has increased exponentially across the University, both for academic and for support staff. Young lecturers at University College Maastricht seem to be having an extra hard time. There are times when they have up to four tuto...
A debate on the future of universities “If nothing else works, we have to strike”

A debate on the future of universities “If nothing else works, we have to strike”

THE NETHERLANDS. “What do our universities need?” asked activists and managers during an online debate organised by the KNAW science association. The ideas discussed ranged from calls for a strike to criticism of turning a blind eye to inappropriate behaviour.
Two thirds of PhD graduates work outside the university

Two thirds of PhD graduates work outside the university

One UM PhD graduate finds work at Statistics Netherlands (CBS), the other at an HR agency and yet another at CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis. Two thirds of all PhD graduates in the Netherlands work outside the university walls. Some are reluctant to leave, others do so consciously. Three portraits.
“You are suddenly no longer part of the UM family”

“You are suddenly no longer part of the UM family”

MAASTRICHT. Begging to be allowed to keep one’s e-mail address and UM Card, no form of support on the road to retirement, sometimes not even a farewell, and then the feeling that you are no longer part of the UM family. Retired and almost retired scientists often feel abandoned by Maastricht University. This became clear in a study carri...
"Love, Lieke"

"Love, Lieke"

MAASTRICHT. “In these strange times, I hope that you still have nice holidays and that your 2021 is filled with many friends and family. Love, Lieke.”
COVID-19 is pushing cancer research aside

COVID-19 is pushing cancer research aside

MAASTRICHT. ‘Cancer won’t wait until COVID-19 is over’. It is the name of the campaign by a group of organisations that focus on the care of cancer patients. Their appeal: go to the doctor if you have symptoms. Considerably fewer cases than expected have been diagnosed nationally, but also in Maastricht, this year. Also,...
Did you pay for the wrong education?

Did you pay for the wrong education?

I wish I had better news for students with a business and commercial specialisation, but chances are that you’re spending a lot of money on an education for the wrong kind of political economy. On the plus side, you have the dubious honour of being a member of the last generation to be educated in this way. Maybe you can put that on your cv? ...

One and a half million for De Maastricht Studie

One and a half million for De Maastricht Studie

The provincial government of Limburg has set aside 1.5 million for De Maastricht Studie, the South Limburg population screening for diabetes and other chronic diseases. This cohort study is now going to enter a second phase. “We will gain more insight into cause and effect.” 
UM and Radboud joining forces

UM and Radboud joining forces

MAASTRICHT. New master’s programme on the Venlo campus, an MBA course for care professionals and a teacher’s training programme in Maastricht. Maastricht University and the Radboud University in Nijmegen are going to work more closely together. The time when Nijmegen feared competition from Maastricht, seems to have passed.
“For a long time, you just try to fit in, but you will never become one of them”

“For a long time, you just try to fit in, but you will never become one of them”

MAASTRICHT. A report that is full of ‘he’ and ‘him’ when it is about a scientific director; female students who don’t go into detail during a tutorial group meeting for fear of boring their fellow students while the men tell their stories without any diffidence; after getting a new job, to hear that you must have gotte...

The Young Academy supports change in the way academic staff are evaluated

THE NETHERLANDS. The leading scientists of The Young Academy are squarely behind the new ‘recognition and reward’ system at Dutch universities, according to a collection of interviews and recommendations which they published Monday.

Maximum of two years to justify tuition in English

THE NETHERLANDS. English-taught educational programmes will need to explain the added value of teaching in English. If they fail to do so, they will only be able to continue teaching in English for a maximum of two years before they need to switch to Dutch.
Extended closure at Christmas, not a gift

Extended closure at Christmas, not a gift

MAASTRICHT. Maastricht University will close its doors on 21 December, rather than 25 December. An extended ‘Christmas closure’. Why? “To give employees extra time to recuperate and rest,” the Executive Board wrote in a communication e-mail last week. Four extra days off? Yes, but at the expense of regular holiday leave...
November Christmas Party

November Christmas Party

Corona completely changes my perception of time. I mean, aside from the fact that it's already December even though it feels like yesterday that COVID-19 reached Italy and Europe started paying closer attention to what would become an all-consuming pandemic. On the smallest scale, it changed when I go to bed and wake up, when I eat, when I go t...

“I don’t work in health care; no one is going to lose any sleep over me publishing fewer articles this year”

“I don’t work in health care; no one is going to lose any sleep over me publishing fewer articles this year”

Before the summer, a yes-we-can mentality prevailed in the Department of Political Science (FASoS). “We were going to show everyone that we could continue our teaching online in an effective way. Everyone was working way too hard”, says department chair Esther Versluis. By now, fatigue has set in.
FASoS tents too noisy for hybrid education

FASoS tents too noisy for hybrid education

MAASTRICHT. The two large tents at the back of the Turn hall on the Grote Gracht that have served as extra classrooms since the beginning of this academic year, are no longer used for this purpose on a regular basis, says Cerien Streefland, director of the Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences. The walls of the tents are too thin to be used for hyb...
Keuzegids 2021: not much new under the sun

Keuzegids 2021: not much new under the sun

MAASTRICHT. Keuzegids 2021 has been published, but it doesn’t contain much new information. The rankings are to a large extent comparable to those of last year, because the guide was based on the results of the National Student Survey from 2019. The survey was not held this spring because of COVID-19. The question is what all those figur...

Covid-19: Where does internationalisation go from here?

THE NETHERLANDS. How will the Covid-19 pandemic impact internationalisation in higher education and research? To get the discussion going, Nuffic has mapped out four future scenarios.
“Good education is important, but you also need to be ‘street smart’”

“Good education is important, but you also need to be ‘street smart’”

“Don’t wait for that ‘million dollar idea’. It could be a long wait. An entrepreneur is something different than an inventor. A mere one in five businesses is innovative. So, you want to start your own business? Then do it!” It is one of the tips from the French philanthropist and social entrepreneur Alexandre Mars. La...
From Readings to 300 Christmas Cards

From Readings to 300 Christmas Cards

It was exactly one week ago when I started my third and last reading for the next tutorial of one of my courses. The topic? Bystanders. The reading? Why and how do we as individuals morally disengage from the atrocities, pain, and suffering in the world, not even lifting a finger to help aside from commenting the praying emoji on a friend's Ins...

Internships during COVID-19: medical interns in action

Internships during COVID-19: medical interns in action

MAASTRICHT. Next Thursday, medical interns throughout the country are going to post selfies of themselves wearing facemasks or maintaining 1.5 metre distance. With the hashtag ‘#CotijdensCovid they want to appeal to their fellow students to continue to adhere to the COVID-19 regulations and give them a glimpse of what their lives look like at...

Temporary contracts still widespread at universities

THE NETHERLANDS. Little progress has been made at Dutch universities when it comes to reducing the number of temporary contracts issued to staff. Over half of all teaching staff still have a contract that runs out on a specific date.
Abuse of power in a small world

Abuse of power in a small world

THE NETHERLANDS. Bullying, abuse of power, sexual harassment: many researchers have to deal with undesirable behaviour over the course of their careers. Trade unions have been calling attention to this lack of social safety for years and the Dutch Network of Women Professors also sounded the alarm last year.

“Every complaint is one too many”

MAASTRICHT. Fewer complaints from students about undesirable treatment while student numbers are rising, how is that possible? The confidential advisor for students looked into 36 cases last year, ten less than in 2018, while the university has expanded by approximately a thousand students. This raised questions in the University Council.
It is so good to hear your voice

It is so good to hear your voice

Since the start of the pandemic, the number of voice messages I have made and received has increased substantially. They have helped me to keep in touch with family, friends, and colleagues, despite being physically distanced from one another. Moreover, after sitting behind the computer all day, the last thing I want to do is send emails and text m...

The Faculty of Law invests a million euro extra

MAASTRICHT. Until 2025, the Faculty of Law is going to invest a million euro, in particular in education, by appointing more (temporary) lecturers. The money comes from the faculty’s reserves, which will amount to more than 6.5 million in 2021.
Students help lecturers with online education

Students help lecturers with online education

In spring, when education suddenly had to become digital, many block co-ordinators at the Faculty of Law found themselves scratching their heads. Periods five and six were on the way – how could they ensure that everything would run as smoothly as possible? How do you record knowledge videos? And how do Blackboard Collaborate Ultra and Zoom w...
Sitting all day long but still feeling healthy

Sitting all day long but still feeling healthy

Spending eight hours a day on your desk chair and then flopping onto the sofa in front of the TV in the evenings. It’s not good and we’ve known that for a while. It increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases and can cause muscular and articular complaints. It doesn’t do you much good mentally, either. People who sit a lot, ofte...
Ombudsman puts finger on UM’s sore points

Ombudsman puts finger on UM’s sore points

MAASTRICHT. Poor or no communication, managers who are not capable of doing their jobs, unfair  treatment. These all contribute towards a work environment that feels unsafe and unpleasant, Maastricht University’s ombudsman concluded in her first annual report. Between February 2019 and August 2020, she received 85 cases from UM employees...

Slower advancement of female professors

THE NETHERLANDS. It may take until the year 2043 until there are as many female as male professors. The rapid increase in the number of female professors hired appears to have slowed down again.
"At 7.30 in the morning I'm already on my mountain bike"

"At 7.30 in the morning I'm already on my mountain bike"

The second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic is here. How are staff members at Maastricht University doing? Mark Govers, associate professor at the Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences (FHML) and member of the University Council on behalf of the academic staff, misses his colleagues and work environment. At the same time, he is enthusiastic ab...

Graduation ceremony postponed after students' petition

MAASTRICHT. Because of a petition from master students of medicine, their graduation ceremony will be postponed to March 2021. At least, for those who want to. "We are very happy that we can now choose."
Number twelve in the world, but at the bottom in the Keuzegids

Number twelve in the world, but at the bottom in the Keuzegids

MAASTRICHT. Rankings – some see them as a necessary evil, others as a helpful way to sift the wheat from the chaff. But where to start? What exactly is the value of the Times Higher Education ranking, which recently published the list for each discipline, for those who want to know what study programme to choose? Or the Keuzegids? And why do ...

Illegal student party on Tongerseweg

MAASTRICHT. The police ended an illegal student party in the former Bonnefantencollege on Tongerseweg last Friday evening. The caretaker, who works for XIOR (a real estate company and lessor of the more than 250 self-contained student apartments in the complex), contacted the police himself.
Six times higher tuition fees for British students

Six times higher tuition fees for British students

MAASTRICHT. British students who are studying in the Netherlands but who do not officially live here, will have to dig deep into their pockets from January. Because of Brexit they will pay the high ‘institutional tuition fee’ instead of the much lower statutory tuition fee as of 2021. Whether it will be a hard or a soft Brexit makes no ...
About Hitler, Taylor Swift, and cryptomnesia

About Hitler, Taylor Swift, and cryptomnesia

Not only researchers but also students need to have the devastating effect of fraud and plagiarism impressed upon them. That was the tenor of an online ‘teach-meet’ by education institute EDLAB last week. Should students be given insight into the  scores of antiplagiarism software or not?
Student House Kitchen Conversations

Student House Kitchen Conversations

Sunday, 16:30h - I slowly creep upstairs and enter the kitchen. A quick look at the stove tells me what I already suspected: everyone else came before me and cooked for both lunch and dinner, leaving half of their delicious-smelling pastas in the pans. That will leave me the choice between the incredibly scratched pan and the one that has who-knows...

"My grandfather was a great writer, I'm proud to be related to him"

"My grandfather was a great writer, I'm proud to be related to him"

“I can tell that you’re Dutch from the way you say ‘yes’,” says first-year student Alina Timosenco (19) from Moldova. Although new to Maastricht, she is already becoming quite adept at identifying both international students and Dutch people. “At first, I thought, ‘How will I know whether or not someone is ...
A Relationship Therapist’s Advice for Academia

A Relationship Therapist’s Advice for Academia

According to the world-renowned relationship psychotherapist, Esther Perel, we are seeking from our romantic partner today what “an entire village” once used to provide: We want reliability and comfort, but also adventure and transcendence. This seemingly conflicting expectations of romance is creating dissatisfaction and unfulfilled de...

Green light for UM exchange programmes

Green light for UM exchange programmes

MAASTRICHT. Second wave or not, Maastricht University is allowing its exchange programmes and work placements abroad to take place this academic year. Contrary to Leiden University and the University of Amsterdam, who feel that the uncertainty is too great. The UM’s foreign plans will have to meet certain requirements, says Martin Paul, presi...
“Senior General Secondary Education is often the highest possible option in their home country”

“Senior General Secondary Education is often the highest possible option in their home country”

Some (potential) students from outside the European Union acquire their secondary school diploma with flying colours, but don’t have quite the qualifications needed for a study programme at Maastricht University. For those who nevertheless want to do so, there is the Foundation Programme. In this one-year study programme, participants are pre...

Enough is enough, give me that iPad!

Enough is enough, give me that iPad!

The aim of the Care and Constraint Act, which has been in existence since January, is to reduce ‘involuntary care’ for the mentally handicapped and those suffering from dementia. The South Limburg Academic Collaborative Centre on Care for Older People is going to draw up a national guideline for nurses and carers, but it has first condu...
“I miss the chats before and after class”

“I miss the chats before and after class”

MAASTRICHT. She has a debate in the Lower House today and it almost feels like an outing with all those online meetings, says minister Ingrid van Engelshoven on Thursday morning at half past nine to eleven UM students. They were invited – every faculty asked one or more students – to speak with her for an hour or so about the quality of...

The Young Academy: “Flying academics should stay on the ground more often"

THE NETHERLANDS. Universities need to do more to reduce their CO2 emissions from air travel, says The Young Academy. In a new report, they recommend learning from everything that has been achieved during the coronavirus crisis and investing in digital conferences and good webcams.
People at Maastricht University take the test: which coffee is the best?

People at Maastricht University take the test: which coffee is the best?

MAASTRICHT. There is a queue at the coffee vending machines next to the university cafeteria inside Universiteitssingel 40 this Tuesday morning. Not just because people want to start their day with a shot of caffeine; important work is going on here. As of 1 March 2021, all coffee vending machines at the university will be replaced. Today, students...
“Why would I not be able to finish my studies while raising a child?”

“Why would I not be able to finish my studies while raising a child?”

MAASTRICHT. How do you combine studying with having children? It’s a familiar question, laughs Dutch Iris te Boome from the Netherlands. She’s a sixth-year Medicine student at Maastricht University who decided to become a mother at a young age. Never for a moment did she consider quitting her studies over it. Marie Rys from Germany, a m...
“Some aspects of Trumpism are here to stay”

“Some aspects of Trumpism are here to stay”

Joe Biden will bring back a degree of internationalism to the U.S. foreign policy, but the Democratic Party has shifted to a more Trumpian view of the world, says Roberta Haar, professor of Foreign Policy Analysis and Transatlantic Relations at UCM, in this opinion piece.
Dear Professor, how honest are you?

Dear Professor, how honest are you?

THE NETHERLANDS. In the Netherlands, the largest ever study of scientific integrity and sloppy science is being conducted across all disciplines. Or that was the idea, at least, but most universities and teaching hospitals are withholding their cooperation.
If My Plants Were Zoom Students

If My Plants Were Zoom Students

It's Sunday morning. Birds are chirping, the sun is shining into my room, and the construction noise that has woken me for the past days finally fell silent. Yet all of this, as beautiful as it may seem, does not bring me as much joy as the first thought that comes up in my head: it's Sunday again - time to water my Amaryllis and Schlumberg...

“Abolition of BSA is an example of a cheap score”

MAASTRICHT. The Lower House wants to get rid of the binding study advice. The House voted in favour of a motion by GroenLinks last week. The minister will have to talk to the education institutes to no longer make this advice ‘binding’. Student unions are enthusiastic, but education experts in Maastricht were not immediately convinced. ...

Student wellbeing at risk in coronavirus era

THE NETHERLANDS. New research shows that the coronavirus crisis has had a profound impact on students. They feel lonely more often, struggle to concentrate and are increasingly worried about study delays.
Update: About unethical experiments and algorithms

Update: About unethical experiments and algorithms

MAASTRICHT. Deep brain stimulation is hot, and can help with compulsive disorders, depressions, epilepsy, and in particular in patients for whom there are no more treatment options available. It may seem like a brand-new technology, but it’s not. American neurologist Robert Heath experimented with it in the nineteen-sixties, even though his e...

Female scientists slipping behind during the coronavirus pandemic

THE NETHERLANDS. Scientists have been strikingly productive since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, but a clear difference can be seen between men and women. This could be the result of the fact that care duties are imbalanced and more often than not fall on women.
"I feel there is more space in the day"

"I feel there is more space in the day"

We are into the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. How are things for Maastricht University employees? Working from home actually suits Jessica Alleva, assistant professor at the Faculty of Psychology and Neurosciences (FPN), very well. After her father-in-law spent weeks in the intensive-care unit with COVID-19 last spring, she realised wh...
Pluck and Luck

Pluck and Luck

The more that I advance on this life journey, the more that I have become interested in decision making. Why do we do the things that we do and how do we make decisions? Why does it seem that we often make irrational choices and engage in risky behavior?   One book that gave me insights into my own decision making was Michael Lewis’ b...

“Miss, you shouldn’t forget that we’re foreigners”

“Miss, you shouldn’t forget that we’re foreigners”

She made hours of audio recordings during her fieldwork at a secondary school in Venlo, Limburg. Pomme van de Weerd, who will receive her PhD from Maastricht University on 18 November, did research on its students’ language use. Most of them were teenagers with a migration background who regularly label themselves and others as buitenlander (...
“I don’t set much score to status or fame, for me it is about the subject matter”

“I don’t set much score to status or fame, for me it is about the subject matter”

MAASTRICHT. “I am sweet until people are unkind or don’t listen. Then I can be hard and nasty.” “I am an unorthodox type of person; I like to stray from the beaten path and I don’t hold my tongue.” “I can be a bit of a hothead.” “The adolescent in me is never far away.” A random selecti...
Problems Proctorio cause chaos for some UM exams

Problems Proctorio cause chaos for some UM exams

MAASTRICHT. The most recent exam week at Maastricht University turned out to be chaotic on some days due to technical problems with anti-cheat software Proctorio. Students were thrown out of the system on one or more occasions and were therefore unable to complete their exam, or could not take it in peace. It is unclear how many students are affect...

Stagnation in the implementation of sustainability plans

MAASTRICHT. Five definite plans came from ‘Green Impact’, a competition held last spring in which teams of students and employees could submit a project for a more sustainable Maastricht University. There was a ceremony where a winner was chosen at the beginning of July, and there was a lot of praise for the participating teams. Since t...
Three Vidi grants for Maastricht

Three Vidi grants for Maastricht

MAASTRICHT. Deep brain stimulation, cardiac arrhythmia, and motor disabilities. Three Maastricht researchers have received a Vidi grant of 800 thousand euro from research financer NWO. A total of  81 researchers had their proposals accepted.
Trial with Maastricht COVID-19 breathalyser

Trial with Maastricht COVID-19 breathalyser

MAASTRICHT. The ministry, the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) and the Area Health Authority (GGD) are going test three ‘noses’, devices that can smell COVID-19 in exhaled breath. One of those is the ‘e-nose’ into which Maastricht scientists have carried out extensive research. Shoul...
That drop of golden fluid time and again

That drop of golden fluid time and again

Addicts, what kind of people are they actually? Why can one person just have a beer, a joint or a pill, while the other goes a step further every time? Also, how susceptible to addiction are you yourself? This was the subject of discussion during an online edition of Let’s Talk, the recurrent talk show by Studium Generale. Together with stude...
“What is the penalty for not wearing a facemask?”

“What is the penalty for not wearing a facemask?”

MAASTRICHT. A lot of obscurity, so there were many questions in the University Council about the Covid-19 security protocol. The latest version was discussed during the University Council meeting last Wednesday afternoon. What is the penalty for not wearing a facemask? Who is going to monitor this? And is this legally watertight?

Sizeable additional costs because of cyberattack and COVID-19

MAASTRICHT. The faculties are spending less money this year, but at a central level and in the service centres, Maastricht University is spending a great deal more, or is losing income. This has to do mainly with the effects of the corona pandemic and the cyberattack, said financial director Ruud Bollen to the University Council last week.
Care homes are doing their best to stay open as much as possible

Care homes are doing their best to stay open as much as possible

A complete closure, never again: that was the general sentiment in care homes after the lockdown in March. The measure had much too negative an effect on inhabitants, their loved ones and employees. Some described it as ‘inhuman’. Now that the second wave is in full swing, the collaborative academic elderly care work places (Samenwerken...
Confusion is in the Air

Confusion is in the Air

I reach out my hand, almost touching Maastricht's iconic city wall as I walk past it on my way to my tutorial room at UCM. Each of my echoing steps sounds like a melody - a truly unique one that can only be heard when walking through UCM. The air smells like the faint memory of Waffle Wednesdays, intense discussions, and new friendships. Though...

“Those scammers are so cunning”

“Those scammers are so cunning”

MAASTRICHT. Two master’s students from Portugal lost two thousand euros to a rental scam. On WhatsApp, a man posing as a landlord had promised them a two-bedroom flat in the centre of Maastricht. It turned out to be nothing but a lie. Although the summer rush on student housing is over, posts about scams are still popping up on Facebook. Inte...
A phosphorescent autumn

A phosphorescent autumn

Does it feel to you like there was something particularly poignant about autumn this year? Was the light different, almost phosphorescent? Or was it just a soothing contrast to my demanding computer screen? And the leaves, so many of them! Falling through the air, thrown back up again in bundles released from four-year-olds’ fingers. I did th...

Greta has shown: everybody can make a difference

Greta has shown: everybody can make a difference

In response to the new documentary I am Greta, UM professor Pim Martens, specialized in sustainability, calls his peers to climb the barricades, to become ‘scientivists’.
"It must not just be a declaration to put in a frame and hang on the wall"

"It must not just be a declaration to put in a frame and hang on the wall"

Going to university, reading a paper, going to a lecture or tutorial group meeting or just walking up the stairs: it is not matter-of-course for everyone. About two thousand students at Maastricht University have a functional disability that hinders them in their studies. Last month, rector Rianne Letschert signed a declaration of intent by the Uni...

Removal expenses compensation: UM discriminates on the basis of age

MAASTRICHT. Maastricht University’s removal regulations are wrong. In the allocation of compensations, it discriminates on the basis of age, decided het College voor de Rechten van de Mens (the Netherlands Institute for Human Rights) at the beginning of this month. Employees running their own household receive 7,445 euro compensation, wh...

Dutch MPs vote to reconsider binding recommendation

THE NETHERLANDS. A slim majority of MPs have voted to bring an end to the binding recommendation on the continuation of studies, a measure that essentially forces students to drop out if they make too little progress in their first year. They have backed a motion submitted by opposition party GroenLinks to reopen the debate on this hotly contested ...

Coronavirus: more international graduates plan to leave the Netherlands

THE NETHERLANDS. The Netherlands as an ideal country in which to live and work after graduation? As a result of the coronavirus crisis, students from outside Europe are now less likely to stay after they finish their studies here. A new Nuffic survey reveals that just over half of new graduates are still planning to apply for a residence permit.
This will be you

This will be you

I still remember my own introduction days at UCM. Holding on tight to my new UCM bag, reading through every flyer that was hidden in it, learning the seven steps of PBL by heart. At UCM, we had a three-day-long introduction period, going over everything from mock tutorials to how to use the vending machine in the common room. But nothing can prepar...

Students help students

Students help students

MAASTRICHT. The student psychologists don’t receive many questions related to COVID-19 problems, says Liesbeth Mouha, student psychologist and fellow organiser of the Well-being Week, which is to start next week. “The people who do come with them, have often been in trouble before. So something was already going on there.”
A day in the life of a Zoom student

A day in the life of a Zoom student

“You averaged 11 hours, 36 minutes of screen time per day last week”, is the first thing my Ipad tells me on a Monday morning. It is 9:58 am and I've been trying to find the Zoom link to my 10 a.m class for the last fifteen minutes. My phone buzzes, thirty new Whatsapp messages and a new message from my tutorial group: “Can...

Gift voucher to stop smoking

Gift voucher to stop smoking

It is a well-known fact that a financial reward helps people quit smoking. But is a gift voucher enough to get the lower educated to give up the cigarettes? Also, is there any point in allowing people to choose from various rewards? These were some of the questions posed at an online symposium organised by the Caphri institute last week. But why do...
“I do get my passion for science from my dad”

“I do get my passion for science from my dad”

American student Meghan Callender was only sixteen years old when she arrived in Nieuwe Pekela for an exchange year. The province of Groningen – as flat as can be, with pastures, cows and water – could not have been more different from Washington State, her homeland full of nature and mountains. But it wasn’t just the surroundings...
Studio MBB: making online fun

Studio MBB: making online fun

MAASTRICHT. They do agree on one thing: online meetings, presentations and discussions could be much more fun. “And it doesn’t need to cost that much money.” Just before COVID-19, Werner Teeling, who is responsible for communication with students at the Faculty of Psychology and Neurosciences, and Bernd Kapeller, project manager f...
“Rarely have Americans felt so misunderstood by their fellow Americans”

“Rarely have Americans felt so misunderstood by their fellow Americans”

Whoever becomes the next president of the United States of America, he could benefit from the love and affection that Ruth Bader Ginsburg and fellow Supreme Court Justice Anton Scalia had for each other, says Roberta Haar, professor of Foreign Policy Analysis and Transatlantic Relations at University College Maastricht in this opinion article. Whil...
KNAW: Give researchers working capital of half a billion euros

KNAW: Give researchers working capital of half a billion euros

THE NETHERLANDS. The battle for research funding is out of control, states a committee at the KNAW science association. They believe the solution to relieving some of the pressure is a rolling grants fund, which researchers can access without having to compete with each other.
“If we behave well now, we will soon be able to have drinks together again”

“If we behave well now, we will soon be able to have drinks together again”

MAASTRICHT. ‘Being able to give my friends hugs again.’ It is one of the quotes on the posters that can be found in the city, at the university, the clubs and association houses from Wednesday 21 October. Student associations Circumflex, Koko, and Tragos are participating in the national campaign #daardoeikhetvoor. An action by students...
From top tennis player to researcher

From top tennis player to researcher

For years, Debbie Gach (23) competed as a tennis player in the Netherlands. She decided to leave the world of competitive sports behind in order to focus on her master’s degree in Human Movement Sciences, with a specialisation in Sports and Nutrition – a degree she has now obtained. “I look forward to working life.&rdquo...

PhD students unaware of their rights, says PNN

THE NETHERLANDS. Having a baby, long-term illness, serving on a participatory body... PhD candidates often have no idea of their rights when it comes to obtaining a contract extension, says PhD Network Netherlands (PNN).
Proctoring outsourced to American company Proctorio

Proctoring outsourced to American company Proctorio

It’s not just the tutorial group meetings and lectures that are different because of the COVID-19 pandemic; exams have also been adapted. Hundreds of students together in the MECC is now impossible. And online proctoring? That can be used if there is really no other alternative, the Executive Board of Maastricht University emphasises. Co...
Testing continues to be a struggle

Testing continues to be a struggle

MAASTRICHT. The first exam period is nearly upon us, but it will be very different from previous years because of COVID-19. Maastricht University had already pared down the maximum number of students allowed in the MECC from 1,800 to four hundred. For most exams an alternative was already sought in the summer, for example in the form of essays...
Face masks compulsory at UM from Thursday 15 October onwards

Face masks compulsory at UM from Thursday 15 October onwards

MAASTRICHT. From tomorrow, Thursday 15 October, onwards, all staff and students will have to wear a face mask in the UM buildings. Under the motto: while walking or standing, the face mask stays on, when you sit down, it can be taken off.
University Council critical about interim report on strategic plan

University Council critical about interim report on strategic plan

MAASTRICHT. A too positive approach and especially: much too little attention for staff’s workload. The University Council is critical about the interim report on Maastricht University’s strategic plan, which was discussed during a University Council committee meeting last week.
"Worldwide recognition of the international reputation of the UM and the MUMC”

"Worldwide recognition of the international reputation of the UM and the MUMC”

MAASTRICHT. Professor Martin Paul, chair of the Executive Board, received the ‘2020 AAHCI Distinguished Service Award’ last week. 
“After this week the hassle will be over”

“After this week the hassle will be over”

MAASTRICHT. Suddenly, deadlines for the assignments had disappeared, the online lecture videos faltered, and some students appeared to be scheduled in two places at the same time. The transition from Blackboard to the more user-friendly Canvas was not a flawless one, but by now the main problems have been solved, says Charles Bollen, the Unive...

Face masks: from urgent advice to obligation

MAASTRICHT. As of today, there is an urgent advice nationwide to wear a face mask in higher education, and that urgent advice will become a duty, as soon as everything is legally completed. Prime Minister Rutte announced this during the press conference yesterday.
A life on campus

A life on campus

Pulling on snow boots and sprinting across the quadrangle in a blizzard.   Emerging from the library stacks with a backpack full of books so essential I would have to call them juicy.  Lunch on the grass, warmed by the sun.  I have a wellspring of memories about experiences on college and university campuses, starting a...

The Corona Test

The Corona Test

Three days before I was set to leave for Germany to spend exam week at my parent's place and visit friends during UCM's reflection week, the one news came that I'd been dreading for days: Limburg, as one of the last Dutch provinces, was finally defined as a risk area by the German authorities. Luckily, I could still go. But it did mean ...

“Fencing was my oxygen”

“Fencing was my oxygen”

His grandmother died last summer, “the best cook in Italy”. Sad but determined, the Italian Giovanni Bava left his birthplace Asti to come and study Economics and Business Economics in Maastricht. His studio in Maastricht is the second home for him ever to live in.
Rector Rianne Letschert: “When they ask me later on what I am proud of, Global Studies is my definite number one”

Rector Rianne Letschert: “When they ask me later on what I am proud of, Global Studies is my definite number one”

MAASTRICHT. Yes, rector Rianne Letschert got dispirited by it at times. Here you have a “great new study programme” in which six faculties are going to collaborate – unique for the Netherlands and maybe even the whole world – and it looks as if it going to fail because of “laborious financial and bureaucratic systems t...
Master’s of Health Education and Promotion: all options are open

Master’s of Health Education and Promotion: all options are open

He already has a job, even though it doesn’t have much to do with his master’s of Health Education and Promotion, says Daan Janssen, 24 years old, who graduated at the end of August. He makes drawings and if he doesn’t do anything crazy, he can live off that. “I have always done it, but never took any lessons. During my bach...

'1 in 5 PhD students experience undesirable conduct'

THE NETHERLANDS. From screaming supervisors to professors wanting hugs, many PhD students experience undesirable conduct, warns interest group PNN. Whistle-blowing often yields no results. "It was made clear to me that I would not win anyway."
Diversity Day: “Feeling at home is the basis for success”

Diversity Day: “Feeling at home is the basis for success”

MAASTRICHT. “The university is focusing too much on solving the problem of loneliness, and not on preventing it. We need initiatives that will bring students in contact with others.” “There is no policy for disabled UM employees. That has to change.” These were a few of the remarks made during Diversity Day, which took place...
“Dutch only”

“Dutch only”

MAASTRICHT. Discrimination on Facebook is there for the world to see in groups where supply and demand on the student room market meet: “German girls only (sorry landlord's rule).” “Hé meiden.” “Dutch only.” Often in capitals, DUTCH ONLY, just to make sure a foreign student doesn’t miss the me...
Number of discriminating advertisements for rooms on Fbook is growing

Number of discriminating advertisements for rooms on Fbook is growing

MAASTRICHT. The number of discriminating Maastricht advertisements for rooms for ‘Dutch only’ or ‘German girls only’ on Facebook is growing. This leads to a lot of irritation on social media, but hardly any action to tackle it.
Feelings of insecurity and dissatisfaction at HR department

Feelings of insecurity and dissatisfaction at HR department

MAASTRICHT. There have been rumblings within Maastricht University’s HR department for some time. Employees apparently do not feel safe, there is supposed to be dissatisfaction about those in charge. An external advisor is now investigating the culture within HR, at the request of the HR management team and the Executive Board.

Randstad popular choice for Master’s students

THE NETHERLANDS. After getting their undergraduate degree from universities in cities such as Tilburg, Groningen and Maastricht, more and more students are choosing to do their Master’s in the Randstad. This is one of the observations reported by the Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis (CPB) in an evaluation of the current Bachelo...
UPDATE: Fasos urges everyone to wear a face mask

UPDATE: Fasos urges everyone to wear a face mask

MAASTRICHT. The Faculty of Arts and Social Science (Fasos) urges students and staff members to wear a face mask. It's not  formally mandatory, although dean Christine Neuhold said during the Faculty Council meeting yesterday, that everyone "has to"  wear a mask. It's more nuanced than that, ...

Nobel Prize in physics awarded for black holes research

SWEDEN. Three physicists were awarded the Nobel Prize today for their discovery of black holes. Roger Penrose proved that they could theoretically exist, while Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez were the first to discover a black hole in the Milky Way.
No Huibregtsen Prize for professor Jan Hamers

No Huibregtsen Prize for professor Jan Hamers

MAASTRICHT. The Huibregtsen Prize 2020 did not go to the Maastricht professor of Care of Older People Jan Hamers. The winners this time – in a very austere ceremony due to COVID-19 – were two researchers from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Johan Hoorn and Elly Konijn, for developing ‘Alice’, a robot girl that helps combat...
UM and IBM researching quantum computing

UM and IBM researching quantum computing

The UM and computer giant IBM are joining forces to find out whether quantum computing could be of use to the Einstein Telescope, the future gravitational wave detector. This telescope is going to yield an amount of data that present computers can hardly process.

FPN wants to freeze its budgets in order to make further cuts

MAASTRICHT. The Faculty of Psychology and Neurosciences is forced to make further cuts again. The faculty has been in the red since last year. It then made cutbacks to the amount of five hundred thousand euro, but it was clear that this would not be enough to bring the general reserve to the right level. According to the UM budget regulations it sh...
Lost in protest

Lost in protest

Having missed the Freiburg vibe for a while now, I decided to join the 'March for Justice' last Saturday: a protest that both demonstrated solidarity with victims of rape and that demanded the codification of sex without consent as rape rather than "sexual interaction against will" in Dutch law. The decision to join was rather spo...

Maastricht recruitment, wake up!

Maastricht recruitment, wake up!

When I graduated from high school, some years ago, I was certain about my future. In the luxury position to have a Dutch state scholarship, I chose to study economics in Maastricht and live there as well. My teachers were very surprised that I went to this small young university, but I never regretted my choice. Now I support my oldest child in ...

Maastricht students: online education is far from ideal, but demonstrating is a step too far

Maastricht students: online education is far from ideal, but demonstrating is a step too far

MAASTRICHT. Online education is far from ideal, say Maastricht students. The quality of problem-based learning is suffering, whether it is purely online or in a hybrid form. There is less discussion, students are less likely to speak out and for newcomers it is difficult to get to know others. These are some of the outcomes of a round of questions ...
European Studies alumna: "I have by now sent out 15 job application letters"

European Studies alumna: "I have by now sent out 15 job application letters"

She has a temporary job at Maastricht University’s EDLAB. To be more precise: she is involved in the premium project in which the Italian Anna Marino (23) participated last year as a master’s student of European Studies. Premium is meant for talented and motivated students who get to work on queries that businesses, NGOs or other bodies...

“I’m three-quarters Polish, but I’ve never been to Poland”

“I’m three-quarters Polish, but I’ve never been to Poland”

When she was in secondary school and her father became seriously ill, she went to therapy. It helped her so much that she decided to study psychology herself. Maike Prenzyna from Germany doesn’t see herself becoming a clinical psychologist, though. “I would care way too much about everything.” She is interested in going into resea...
Thinking more clearly with less CO2 in the room

Thinking more clearly with less CO2 in the room

Maastricht economists and health scientists are going to carry out research together into the indoor climate inside the Tapijn buildings. Not because it is so terrible, on the contrary, it complies with the highest standards. But the question is whether employees feel healthier. Do students perform better? 
The  Eifel is 'moving': consequences for the Einstein Telescope?

The Eifel is 'moving': consequences for the Einstein Telescope?

MAASTRICHT. An American study has shown that the earth under the German Eifel mountain range, to the south of Aachen, moves and rises by one millimetre per year. Does that have any consequences for the Maastricht research into gravitational waves? And hence also for the possible arrival of the hypersensitive Einstein Telescope?
From the cosmos to whiteboard cloths

From the cosmos to whiteboard cloths

They paint, create installations, booklets, collages, photographs. But art in all different forms is not the only thing that Andries Hoogenraad, Nathalie Brans, Ruben Philipsen and Titia Eggen have in common. All four are also receptionists at Maastricht University. Their joint exhibition Teken aan de Wand (Sign on the Wall) can now be seen on the ...
“I’m a real adult now”

“I’m a real adult now”

A day before starting her new job, she defended her master’s thesis. It was graded with an 8.5. Armed with her brand-new degree in Global Supply Chain Management and Change, Monika Koritarova (25) was ready to embark on the Supply Chain Talent Program of high-tech company ASML in Veldhoven, North Brabant. She will work as a project coordinato...

When your internet breaks

When your internet breaks

"What are you doing? Studying? Playing games?" With these words, the waitress placed the beer next to my closed computer at the cafe I had been spending my afternoon. Why? Well, let me tell you the tale of broken wifi at a student house in the middle of a COVID-19-proof university. It all started when the construction workers next d...

Education, exams and research on campus continue as usual

MAASTRICHT. Education at Maastricht University will continue as usual, just like the planned exams in the Mecc and the research that takes place on campus. The latest corona measures of the Dutch govenrment won't change this. Employees still have to work from home as much as possible.
The do’s and dont’s of ‘COVID-19 education’

The do’s and dont’s of ‘COVID-19 education’

Give every student five tacks and a jar during a tutorial group meeting. Each time someone says something, a tack disappears into his or her jar. After five times, they are out of speaking time. “This gives quiet students the opportunity to also contribute to the discussion. The chatty students have no tacks left after twenty minutes,” ...

We do not need excellent students

We do not need excellent students

In my youth, I obediently followed the rules and repeated what I was taught. I was a pet to authority, and would reject that cage if I was given another chance. Education put me in classrooms, made me ask permission before speaking, and made me compete with my friends to see who could produce the best low-grade bureaucratic output. Deviation was...

Student protest: we want more lessons

THE NETHERLANDS. Students want more face-to-face education. They will call for this at a protest on Friday at Museumplein in Amsterdam. "I've only been taught online this year."
“Making a production process more efficient, I get a kick out of that”

“Making a production process more efficient, I get a kick out of that”

When he studies, he always goes for a ten, plays at a high level for football club MVV, and wants to become a member of every club or association. First-year student of Econometrics Cedric Pots, living at home in Maastricht, sometimes has to have his enthusiasm curbed. He agrees that he sets the bar too high every now and again.
"Vegetarians are very interested in cultured meat"

"Vegetarians are very interested in cultured meat"

MAASTRICHT. Cultured meat company Mosa Meat, a spin-off of Maastricht University, has received 55 million euros from private investors and 10 million euros from the Dutch government. Professor Mark Post will use this money to bring the cultured beef hamburger to market. Where it will be introduced first remains to be seen. “It could be in Sin...

What happens to the loan system millions?

THE NETHERLANDS. Wondering what universities plan to spend the funds from the basic student grant on? The NOS op 3 news desk has created a neat overview.

More students with mental health problems as a result of the coronavirus crisis

THE NETHERLANDS. The number of young people with mental health problems remained mostly stable in recent years. But the coronavirus crisis has made life harder for students, according to a new national study. Former professor and researcher Peter van der Velden has expressed concern.

You can’t always run to A & E with your minor little pain

MAASTRICHT. Maastricht University recently appointed a health counsellor for students: a single contact person for students with physical health problems. Students won’t get a medical diagnosis and there will be no treatment either. The counsellor advises and points (foreign) students in the right direction of the often unknown world of ...

Corona compensation only for final-year students for now

THE NETHERLANDS. About mid-way through your studies and already delayed due to the coronavirus outbreak? Too bad, because only students in their final year will be compensated financially. No changes to these plans are expected for the time being. A more elaborate scheme was rejected yesterday by one vote in the House of Representatives.
"You wouldn’t want to be known as the fraternity that became a COVID-19 hotspot in Maastricht”

"You wouldn’t want to be known as the fraternity that became a COVID-19 hotspot in Maastricht”

MAASTRICHT. The number of COVID-19 infections is rising rapidly and time and again the finger is being pointed at the students, who are alleged to have become the main source of infections and not to always be very particular about the rules. What about Maastricht? 'We really pay attention', it sounds more than once, 'especially in the ...
Rector Rianne Letschert: “A football team is not just made up of strikers or goalkeepers"

Rector Rianne Letschert: “A football team is not just made up of strikers or goalkeepers"

THE NETHERLANDS/MAASTRICHT. Scientists teach, lead their department and share their insights with the general public. They are going to receive more recognition for this kind of work. But is it at the expense of their research?
Mid-term Week

Mid-term Week

It was 10pm when I allowed myself to have dinner. I had been studying all day, getting up at 9:30am in the morning (which is way later than when my 8am alarm went off, but when you study until 1:30am the night before, getting up at 8 again is simply too unrealistic for a sleeper like me). While my stomach already started complaining at 7pm, I promi...

‘More and more students paying way too much rent’

THE NETHERLANDS. National student union LSVb has issued a warning about the extremely high rents students currently pay for their rooms. Especially in cities like Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Utrecht, access to accommodation requires deep pockets. The cheapest rooms are found in Enschede.
Smaller waist size in children from Healthy Primary School

Smaller waist size in children from Healthy Primary School

Children in primary school who exercise more and eat more healthily, have significantly less stomach fat than others of the same age in regular primary schools. The UM is presenting this result today at the final symposium on the Healthy Primary School of the Future (Gezonde Basisschool van de Toekomst).
“My father said, ‘This is your dream, I trust you, you should go’”

“My father said, ‘This is your dream, I trust you, you should go’”

It was quite a shock for her parents when they heard that their daughter would have to move out in order to study Health Sciences. Nobody does that in Syria: “Everyone lives at home. We certainly don’t let girls live alone.” The rest of her family also told her not to do it over Skype. But on 31 August 2020, Hadeel Khawatmy (prono...
Getting to know my grandfathers

Getting to know my grandfathers

In my very first column for Observant, I wrote about the end of history illusion (by psychologist Daniel Gilbert and others) showing that, no matter what age, we think that we have finally become the person we ‘truly’ are, and are no longer going to change. I’ve been thinking a lot about the end of history illusion these days, bec...

Temporary UM registration figures: almost 14 per cent more first-year students

Temporary UM registration figures: almost 14 per cent more first-year students

MAASTRICHT. The number of first-year students at Maastricht University is expected to increase by 14 per cent this academic year. The UM now has a total of more than twenty thousand students. The majority is from abroad, about 44 per cent has Dutch nationality. These are temporary figures, dating from 1 September.
Alumna at Law with nursing roots

Alumna at Law with nursing roots

She wrote her final thesis on euthanasia and dementia. In it, she focussed on the Dutch case of a geriatrician who had ended the life of a patient suffering from dementia. The woman had signed a declaration when she was able to give informed consent. Nevertheless, the doctor was charged by the public prosecutor, after the dossier had been presented...

“What the police often does on the streets is guessing”

“What the police often does on the streets is guessing”

What crime would you associate with a white and well-educated young man? And which one with a black rapper driving an expensive car? These are some of the questions the participants to the zoom lecture “Ethnic Profiling in the Netherlands” were asked. This event, that took place last Wednesday, was organized by Amnesty International in ...
Sabic, it’s your mess that we are cleaning up

Sabic, it’s your mess that we are cleaning up

Arthur Bribosia, who recently won the UM-Student Prize for his support of Students 4 Climate, and Ezekiel Stevens, university council member for Climate Action Network, will join Global Clean Up Day, this Saturday. At the same time they question the role of Sabic, a partner of Maas Clean Up. “One of the main producers of plastic pro...
The division of invisible labour

The division of invisible labour

How are my PhD students doing? How do I explain to my child that I have to work even though I’m at home? How do I stay in touch with my friends and family online? These are just a few answers to the question “what was on your mental load list these past few months”. This question was asked during the FEM roundtable discussion on i...

Summer School continues with online courses this autumn

MAASTRICHT. The Maastricht Summer School was attended by more than two hundred participants last year. “A record in our recent history,” says Annemarijn Weber. While everything had to be online because of the Covid-19 pandemic and they could only offer a small selection of their courses. There will be a repeat this autumn; not under the...

State budget: no extra money for education

THE NETHERLANDS. No out-of-the-blue budget cuts, but no extra funding either to ensure high-quality education during the coronavirus crisis. The government’s Budget Memorandum underscores the importance of good education but does not provide a generous budget. 
GPs get help to recognise depression

GPs get help to recognise depression

People seeking help for depression or anxiety go see their GP first. But general practitioners often don’t know what to do with this. For example, they don’t recognise depression in three quarters of patients. UM researchers have developed two tools to support them.
No Zumba behind closed doors

No Zumba behind closed doors

When instead of riding your bike to uni or the library every day, your 'sports' mainly consists of walking to the kitchen to get more milk to dip your cookies in (the cookies you already keep in your room, after all, anything else would require too much effort), you just know that the time has come to check out what UM Sports has to offer t...

Sympathy for the Rule Breakers

Sympathy for the Rule Breakers

Northeastern University in Boston recently dismissed 11 first-year students who were watching TV together in a dorm room. These students allegedly violated the university’s social distancing rules, which they were repeatedly informed of and even signed contracts promising their compliance. The students had moved in only a few days prior, but ...

Keeping up the spirit during lockdown

Keeping up the spirit during lockdown

Look, I Zoom in And I Zoom out But can I really focus? It all started last March on Twitter with these four lines of poetry by Paul Stephenson, assistant professor of Political Science and poet. Sally Wyatt, professor Digital Cultures and since September a member of the Faculty Board of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, replied t...

European Public Affairs alumna: “I have been tremendously lucky”

European Public Affairs alumna: “I have been tremendously lucky”

She has time for an interview every day at the end of the afternoon, Ida-Susanna Pöllänen informs us by e-mail. Once she is on the telephone from Finland, the recent graduate from the master’s of European Public Affairs tells us that she has a job.
COVID-19 steward: “Sometimes I collect 25 thousand steps a day”

COVID-19 steward: “Sometimes I collect 25 thousand steps a day”

“Hello everyone, may I have your attention please,” student steward Artur Klatka asks a (COVID-19) filled lecture hall in the new UM building on the Paul Henri Spaaklaan. “I could see from outside that you were standing too close to each other. Could you please maintain the one-and-a-half-metre distance? Thank you very much. If yo...

Fasos: tutorial group in a tent

Fasos: tutorial group in a tent

MAASTRICHT. Two large white tents, model festival tent, have recently been installed behind the Turnzaal on the Grote Gracht. Since the start of the academic year, they function as additional tutorial rooms. The largest (25 by 15 meters) can accommodate 55 students in a Covid-19-proof setting, the second (15 by 15 meters) 40 students.

FHML Faculty development team wins excellence award

MAASTRICHT. The Faculty development team – responsible for the training of lecturers – from the department of Educational Development and Research (O&O) at the Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences has won the Aspire for Excellence Award. The prize is awarded every year by AMEE, an international association for medical educa...

Growth Fund: is science about to get the money it’s been asking for?

THE NETHERLANDS. Over the next few years, the government will spend €20 billion on education & research, innovation and infrastructure. Is this the major investment that teaching staff and academics have been crying out for?
Audit team: “One hundred per cent COVID-19-proof doesn’t exist”

Audit team: “One hundred per cent COVID-19-proof doesn’t exist”

MAASTRICHT. At breakneck speed, all UM buildings - from Venlo to Maastricht – have been made COVID-19-proof  before the start of the academic year. Paul van Eekeren and Yves Maris from Facility Services were right on top of it as ‘COVID-19 protocol audit team’. “One hundred per cent COVID-19-proof doesn’t exist, i...
Lockdown Blues

Lockdown Blues

How did you spend your time when we were forced to stay home or at least not have contact with other people? It was a difficult time. Maybe you also had a visit from the covid-19 witches? They certainly did some pot-stirring in my village. My strategy to keep them at bay was to get on my road bike and climb a few South Limburg hills. Often, I had t...

SBE-graduate: "I have adapted my search"

SBE-graduate: "I have adapted my search"

She has had plenty of student jobs: as a receptionist at a hotel, working for an Escape Room, street vendor for regional daily newspapers. But now the time has come for a real job, and that is a different kettle of fish. ‘Currently open to new job opportunities’, it says at the top of the LinkedIn profile of the 24-year-old Selke Ruijss...
The only one present

The only one present

"I hope I'm not the only one here today." I said it with a grin. Sometimes you only realize the irony of a situation in retrospect. This is one of those times. Last Wednesday morning, I immediately knew how I had to follow the designated route to get to my tutorial room. Though this was not, as one might assume, because I was so ex...

Not possible yet to shower at the sports centre, but training there is safe

Not possible yet to shower at the sports centre, but training there is safe

There’s a reservation system, stickers and signs galore, tape everywhere, a one-way walking system, and sanitiser can be found every few metres. Everything takes a little longer and requires a little more preparation than usual, but you can get a corona-proof workout in at UM Sports. The showers are not yet available. The new house rules a...

20 billion for knowledge, innovation and infrastructure

THE NETHERLANDS. Ministers Hoekstra and Wiebes announced that the government has allocated 20 billion euros to help boost knowledge, innovation and infrastructure in the next five years.

Two European grants for Maastricht

THE NETHERLANDS/MAASTRICHT. The Netherlands has received 42 European research grants for young scientists this year. Two are for Maastricht researchers Katie Kuschminder en Olga Zvonareva.
New studios are going like hot cakes

New studios are going like hot cakes

MAASTRICHT. Maastricht boasts a number of large extra student complexes since this summer. Former offices on the Bassin, the Hertogsingel and on the Dokter Nevenstraat in Scharn have been completely stripped and renovated. In total, more than three hundred independent studios were added. The letting agents are not complaining about lack of occ...
Two starting grants for Maastricht University

Two starting grants for Maastricht University

MAASTRICHT / THE NETHERLANDS. Katie Kuschminder and Olga Zvonareva from Maastricht University have both received a starting grant, a European research grant for young scientists. The Netherlands received a total of 42 this year.
“I have to compete with candidates who have three to four years of work experience”

“I have to compete with candidates who have three to four years of work experience”

He was shocked by it, he hadn’t expected the competition to be so fierce: three to four hundred “often strong” candidates for jobs in Brussels, around the European Commission. Jobs that Jack van den Berg, who graduated from the master’s of European Studies in the middle of July, would love to have. 
Tapijn receives artwork and sustainability certificate

Tapijn receives artwork and sustainability certificate

MAASTRICHT. On Monday, the artwork of photographer Robin de Puy was unveiled in the renovated carré building at the Tapijnkazerne. It is a gallery of portraits - including those of Maastricht students - that together should express the diversity that Maastricht University stands for. The photos are printed on the thirty-meter long awning that hangs...
Number of Koko registrations doubled

Number of Koko registrations doubled

The number of students who signed up with a student association has risen considerably this year compared to last year. Nationally, the number has grown more than fifty per cent, especially Eindhoven (79 per cent), Utrecht and Groningen (66 per cent) had a lot of new first-year students. The Maastricht associations easily exceed those percentages b...

Jaargang 40

Jaargang 40 Due to the corona crisis, Observant was not published on paper after March 12, 2020. Therefore, instead of the pdf of the paper newspaper,  the weekly newsletters that have been sent since that time are published here.  Nieuwsbrief 17-06-2020 Newsletter 17-06-2020 (English version) Nieuwsbrief 10-06-2020 Newslet...

“UM could do so much more for sustainability”

“UM could do so much more for sustainability”

With one arm in a cast, UCM student Arthur Bribosia (23) accepted the annual Student Award last Monday. A few days earlier, when he heard that his movement Students for Climate had won the award, the Belgian student was overjoyed, climbed a tree, fell out of it and broke his arm. Rector Rianne Letschert gave him a bouquet of flowers, a little statu...

Education after COVID-19: from instructor to mentor

Education after COVID-19: from instructor to mentor

Helping students individually, mainly being there as a mentor. That is the future of the university lecturer according to professor Eric Mazur, education expert and Balkanski professor of Physics and Applied Physics at Harvard University. In his keynote speech on Monday during the online opening ceremony of the academic year, he shared new insights...
Another black hole collision detected through gravitational waves

Another black hole collision detected through gravitational waves

Another great discovery has been made with the help of gravitational waves. In May 2019, the telescopes in the US (LIGO) and in Europe (Virgo), which UM has been affiliated with since 2017, detected waves resulting from a collision of two black holes.

Maastricht rises slightly in the worldwide Times Higher ranking

THE NETHERLANDS / MAASTRICHT.The Netherlands still has eleven universities in the global top 200 of the British magazine Times Higher Education, but again most of them drop a few places. Wageningen, the national number one, drops from 59 to 62. Maastricht rises a few places to 121.
Nice germs

Nice germs

Germs have been getting bad press lately. I’ve never been one to like them myself. As a habitual germaphobe, I have been able to navigate my way through FASoS buildings without touching handles for years. Yes, I am one of those weirdos who opens doors with elbows or sleeves. I love electronic openings. And oh, the sound of automatic hand clea...

The storm has not yet passed

The storm has not yet passed

MAASTRICHT. The choice of theme ‘After the storm’ was somewhat optimistic, President Martin Paul admitted during the opening ceremony of the academic year at Tapijn barracks, which could be followed this year via a livestream. The COVID-19 pandemic is, after all, still in full swing. But that won’t prevent Maastricht University fr...
Three million euro grant to simulate the brain

Three million euro grant to simulate the brain

UM’s neuroscientists have received three million euros to coordinate an international research project. It’s part of the Human Brain Project, to which the EU awarded one billion euros in 2013. Its goal was and still is to create a computer simulation of the human brain in ten years.  The subproject, in which several European lab...

Welcome (back) to Maastricht!

Welcome (back) to Maastricht!

Surrounded by piles of clothes and half-built furniture, I carefully sit on the blanket I placed on my mattress (I still have to wash the bedsheets) and look out of the window. The street seems suddenly quiet. No more big cars with boedelbakken (trailers) pull up the sidewalk, unloading box after box. No more students with backpacks bigger than the...

UPDATE 2: 18 students UM with Covid-19

UPDATE 2: 18 students UM with Covid-19

MAASTRICHT. Maastricht University is dealing with an increasing number of corona infections. The counter now (31 August) stands at 18 students who tested positive for Covid-19. The cause could be sought in student houses where the rules have not always been observed.
UM is growing rapidly: almost twenty thousand students

UM is growing rapidly: almost twenty thousand students

MAASTRICHT. Nearly twenty thousand students have enrolled at Maastricht University for this academic year. Last year there were about 19 thousand. The share of Dutch students is growing by 10 percent; that of the foreign students by 15 percent, says interim spokesperson Fons Elbersen. These are preliminary enrollment figures. Definitive data will n...

PNN: PhD students also suffer from heavy workload

THE NETHERLANDS. PhD students at Dutch universities often burn the candle at both ends, working long hours that sometimes result in burnouts and other psychological problems. Something needs to be done about the workload, says the Dutch network for PhD students, Promovendi Netwerk Nederland (PNN).
One of the world’s top thinkers: lab meat pioneer Professor Mark Post

One of the world’s top thinkers: lab meat pioneer Professor Mark Post

Pharmacologist and UM Professor Mark Post, who created the cultured beef hamburger, is one of the fifty most important thinkers of our time, according to British general-interest magazine Prospect Magazine. The list of intellectuals was recently published on its website.  Post: “I was completely surprised. I didn’...

UM professor interviewing Dakota Indian, Aboriginal and Aztec leaders

UM professor interviewing Dakota Indian, Aboriginal and Aztec leaders

The relationship between humans and animals has gone off track in many parts of the world, argues Professor Pim Martens. How do leaders of Indigenous peoples and representatives of world religions feel about this? Martens will publish ten video conversations with spiritual and religious leaders.
“From an emotional viewpoint it was a difficult year"

“From an emotional viewpoint it was a difficult year"

Last week, the first largely online Inkom took place. A strange week, after a difficult year, says Milou Berdenis van Berlekom, chairperson of the Working Group Inkom.  But it was one that we can look back on positively. “We had a thank-you dinner on Sunday for the crew that helped us over the past three weeks. I looked around me and tho...

Rathenau: academia is performing well, but work pressure is high

THE NETHERLANDS. Researchers work a surprising amount of overtime and absenteeism is on the rise. That is a ‘point for consideration,’ says the Rathenau Institute in a report on the state of affairs in academia.
“I had a really fun Inkom group”

“I had a really fun Inkom group”

This year, the Inkom, the introduction week by Maastricht University, took place mainly online. Was it worth it? Did the first-year students meet new people? Has Maastricht become their city? We asked four freshmen.

Two students tested positive for Covid-19

MAASTRICHT. Two students who participated in the Inkom, digital and on campus, tested positive for Covid-19. UM has heard this today, the university writes in a recently issued press release. The GGD (public health authority) is conducting a source and contact investigation
UPDATE: And again the introduction of student associations has to change

UPDATE: And again the introduction of student associations has to change

MAASTRICHT. Student associations and debating societies are trying to recruit new members, but the COVID-19 measures don’t make it easy for them. Especially because the rules keep changing. First, actual physical recruiting was allowed, then only online, and now it is different again, but how exactly? In the meantime, by-passing the strictest...
“It won’t all be cosy and comfy. Learning is sometimes very uncomfortable”

“It won’t all be cosy and comfy. Learning is sometimes very uncomfortable”

“Our dream is becoming reality because of you, students,” says an enthusiastic head of the Development Team Valentina Mazzucato. After three years of preparations, Monday 24 August is the kick-off for Global Studies, the new UM bachelor’s programme that is a collaboration between the six Maastricht faculties. Not all of the sevent...

Minister: cheating limited during online exams

THE NETHERLANDS. Education minister Ingrid van Engelshoven claims that students have not cheated en masse since universities switched to online exams this spring. Or at least, they haven’t cheated more than usual.
Foreign students in voluntary quarantine in Guesthouse

Foreign students in voluntary quarantine in Guesthouse

MAASTRICHT. At the moment six foreign students are in voluntary quarantine in the Annadal Guesthouse. They 've arrived from an orange or red area in the world. None of them is showing any symptoms or have tested positive for corona at the moment, says Roel van der Nat, manager of the Guesthouse. The ‘isolation corridor’ is empt...
“I really can’t cook”

“I really can’t cook”

Eindhoven, Nijmegen, Maastricht. You can study Biomedical Sciences in all three cities, but there is a restricted entry in Nijmegen and the study programme in Eindhoven is fairly technical. So, Robin Beurskens (19) registered in Maastricht at the last minute. “Wonderful city too. And not too far from Venlo, where I live. About fifty minute...

Is André Rieu from Maastricht?

Is André Rieu from Maastricht?

Somewhere between the University Library and the City Park, the INKOM city walk participants take a wrong turn. They go left onto Begijnenstraat instead of continuing straight ahead to the checkpoint in the park. The students are almost at Café Sjiek when they realise their mistake. They turn back and go through Helpoort gate on their way to the pa...

Mozzarella in carrozza

Mozzarella in carrozza

Giovanni Bava was dropped off in Maastricht by his parents and brother to study Economics & Business Economics. All the way from Italy by car. “My brother is going to study in Canada, so this was like a last family trip.” Initially, it was a little scary to be left behind here by myself, but after the first meeting with people from ...

“Moving to another country is not scary”

“Moving to another country is not scary”

Conor Johnston (20) is one of the first-year students who was worked hard during UM Sports Inkom workout on Wednesday morning. “I didn’t expect it to be that intense. But it was a good exercise.” He is pretty certain that he will be joining the sports centre. “I want to join the tennis club and the rugby team.” Especia...

“Maastricht feels like home, like it’s my city”

“Maastricht feels like home, like it’s my city”

“I grew up in Afghanistan, but have lived in the Netherlands for five years now,” says Haroon Rezaie (21), first-year student of European Studies. “I really want to know more about the place where I live and where my future lies, that is why I chose European Studies. I am really looking forward to discovering more about European h...

Digital pizza

Digital pizza

‘Learn to cook like a real Maastricht resident.’ That’s the promising description of the virtual event Meals of Maastricht, part of the Inkom 2020. It’s Wednesday August 19, 6 pm, and I‘m standing in my kitchen in Germany. I am very hungry and a bit disappointed. When I read the description, I imagined some sor...

The moment the cotton bud disappears into her nose, has been recorded for all eternity

The moment the cotton bud disappears into her nose, has been recorded for all eternity

MAASTRICHT. No Inkom in the MECC this year, but this Tuesday afternoon three doctors to be and a psychology student will be having their own ‘party’ in white protective suits. Well, it certainly isn’t a party, although things are quite relaxed in the GGD (local health authority) Zuid Limburg’s new testing facility, it b...
Chicken phobia and a serenade for number 95623489

Chicken phobia and a serenade for number 95623489

“What song would you like to hear, number 95623489?” The Inkom participants who logged in to the serenade evening by Tuna de Maastricht – part of the CultiNight – on Tuesday night, are assigned a random number as user name. Well, that is rather difficult to put into a romantic song. “Maybe we need to give them Spanish ...
“Ten more seconds, come on”

“Ten more seconds, come on”

The workout was fully COVID-proof. At the entrance to the sports hall, people were asked to scan a QR code and fill in a list of questions on their phone. If their screen turned green, they were allowed inside. The entire hall was being used so that participants had enough space to keep their distance from each other. Ten yellow sports cones had be...

“I think I am going to have to learn to cycle again”

“I think I am going to have to learn to cycle again”

Callie Mak (18) from Singapore moved from Singapore to Spain with her parents so that she could do her A levels. This academic year she will start at the Maastricht Science Programme. “I wanted to move to a new place and do a study programme that offers a lot of freedom to choose your own set of subjects.” In addition to Maastricht, she...

A hybrid Inkom

A hybrid Inkom

Will I or will I not go to Maastricht during the Inkom?’ Derck Dolmans (20) asked himself a couple of weeks ago. He opted for a combination. “I will stay at home the first three days, most of the programme is online, and I will attend the last two days. That is when I will meet some people from my group.” At the moment, they us...

Even in times of COVID-19 the UM will grow

MAASTRICHT. Definite figures or growth percentages are not being given, the situation at the moment is “still too unsure,” say interim spokesperson Fons Elbersen. But it is no secret that Maastricht University can bank on more enrolments this academic year.  
“Where will this end? Is the government also going to fix the rent?”

“Where will this end? Is the government also going to fix the rent?”

MAASTRICHT. Having a BBQ in the city park should be allowed. Pubs should be open 24 hours a day. You should be allowed to drink alcoholic beverages on the street. Hazing should be abolished. Just a few of the propositions discussed first by four political youth parties last Tuesday, and then by the four large Maastricht student associations. In Eng...
Jumping while wearing high heels

Jumping while wearing high heels

“Come on guys, to the beat, right.” The five members of the Working Group Inkom (WGI) are standing on the roof of the MECC on Monday evening. This is where the Inkom opening ceremony will take place shortly after, which can be viewed via a livestream. But first some practice is needed. And again; jumping while wearing high heels is no e...

Student associations get green light for face-to-face events after all

THE NETHERLANDS. Student associations will be allowed to host introduction events for prospective members after all. After some initial hesitation, the Dutch government conceded to pressure from the House of Representatives.
Top-class study and sports

Top-class study and sports

Cedric Pots (18) grew up in Scharn, so yes, it is logical that he is going study at Maastricht University. But in Pots’ case, things are a little different. From the time he was in fourth year of secondary school, Pots has known that he wants to study Econometrics – or Economics at any rate – so he looked into varies studies of th...

“Don’t forget the 1.5 metres”

“Don’t forget the 1.5 metres”

“Could you please keep one and a half metres’ distance?” The new students at the entrance to the information market at Tapijn take a few steps to the side. “Thank you very much,” says the senior-year student, wearing an Inkom sports shirt. It is Inkom week. But the city is unusually quiet, no senior-year students pr...

A cross-border HIV prevention programme

A cross-border HIV prevention programme

A HIV prevention programme specifically geared towards the Euregion, is what professor Kai Jonas and PhD candidate Lizette Krist want to set up. But first they need to discover the needs of the groups at risk in the region. Also, how do you get the different local area health authorities, municipalities and provinces to agree?
A cycling doctor to be

A cycling doctor to be

26 June 2020 is a day that Maud van der Velde (19) will never forget. That is when she heard that she had been accepted after all to study Medicine in Maastricht, having been on the waiting list until that time. 
Leap into the unknown

Leap into the unknown

You’ve arrived in Maastricht and everything is new: different people from all around the world (aka. Germany), a different study program, and hopefully finally doing what you're passionate about. Now, what golden tip do you need in order to succeed? Considering myself a fairly experienced student by now after 3 years of studying both i...

Reporting on Inkom 2020

Reporting on Inkom 2020

WED 19 AUG - In the MVV stadium, cantus band Groots met een valse G tries to get the atmosphere of a cantus through the screen into the living room of the Maastricht students. The cantus bundle is a PDF this year, the music and drink party itself can be followed via a live stream. - Every morning, students gather at the Sports C...

"I’ll postpone the ‘student housing-theme’ for a while"

"I’ll postpone the ‘student housing-theme’ for a while"

A few days before the introduction week Inkom kicks off, eighteen-year-old Renée Moers is still in Luxembourg, on a campsite. “I’m taking a little break with friends.” She was initially scheduled to fly to Alicante with her mother after her central exams and would spend another ten days in Italy with her boyfriend t...

Novum party leader exonerated

​MAASTRICHT. The complaint submitted by student party Dope after the university elections in May, against Novum party leader because of  ‘misconduct’ is unfounded. This was the decision taken by the Executive Board last week. According to Novum’s leader, this was a case of “personal mud-slinging” against...
Inkom 2020: a lot online, but also physical meetings

Inkom 2020: a lot online, but also physical meetings

MAASTRICHT. Now that the COVID-19 measures have been somewhat relaxed, larger physical gatherings can take place during the INKOM, from 17 until 21 August. This means that each participant will be given the opportunity to attend the evening meetings at least once and freshmen can also become personally acquainted with their group during registratio...
From textbook to paper reviewing

From textbook to paper reviewing

Covid-19 changed a lot for everybody, but for the second-year students of the International Medicine Track, it changed the content of their entire course. Instead of learning about drug development, they dived into all the research that has been coming out about the new virus worldwide.
“Life is like rowing against the wind. Who doesn’t learn, will go adrift”

“Life is like rowing against the wind. Who doesn’t learn, will go adrift”

They have one goal, one boat, one team. For months, they were up before dawn so they could train, drank no alcohol, watched what they ate, skipped going to parties, and went to bed on time. Then on 12 March, there were the words by minister Bruno Bruins during the COVID-19 press conference: “All events with more than a hundred people have bee...

Board SBE: “Please believe us, we don’t want to punish anyone”

Board SBE: “Please believe us, we don’t want to punish anyone”

MAASTRICHT. "Do we actually have a chance of changing any of your decisions or are we just here to listen to hear you explain them?” Last Friday afternoon, the School of Business and Economics held an online town hall meeting via Zoom for worried, angry and disappointed students who did not pass the first-year subject...
“I bought a one-way ticket to Sydney and took off”

“I bought a one-way ticket to Sydney and took off”

International Business alumnus Arjan Tiessen This interview with wine importer Arjan Tiessen (37) has been about a year and a half in the making. It all started when Arjan, who lives in Tanzania, replied to my request for an interview on Facebook Messenger. “I’d love to, man! That article from sixteen years ago, I still think about i...

“UM should not say that Zwarte Piet is racist”

MAASTRICHT.  University Council member Sjaak Koenis feels that the university should not involve itself in political discussions. The Executive Board is doing that by saying that Zwarte Piet is racist.

Texting using during exams: new ways of cheating during the crisis

MAASTRICHT/THE NETHERLANDS. The number of suspected cases of academic misconduct during online exams is on the rise. In recent weeks cheating occurred at various universities, from Maastricht to Twente, to Rotterdam and Nijmegen. “We trust our students, but we are not naive.”
Allocation of 40 percent of the abolished student grants is still unclear

Allocation of 40 percent of the abolished student grants is still unclear

THE NETHERLANDS. After the abolition of the student grant in 2015, students were promised educational improvements. But will the 2.5 billion euros that is being made available up until 2024 also be spent on that? Research carried out by Folia shows that one in three universities and academic institutions do not as yet have a realistic spending plan...
Literally: Fit & Fun Outdoor

Literally: Fit & Fun Outdoor

For the time being UM Sports is taking things outside now indoor sports are still not allowed. As of 1 July, sport centres may open their doors again, but UM Sports does not have official approval yet, they report on Facebook. Four days a week, there will be Fit & Fun Outdoor, a class in which you run short distances and ...

“It is worth the students’ while to come to Maastricht”

“It is worth the students’ while to come to Maastricht”

MAASTRICHT. On campus when possible, online if necessary. That is Maastricht University’s slogan for its education activities in the new academic year. This slogan goes hand in hand with the appeal to students: come to Maastricht. How does the slogan work in practice? How many hours a week will a student spend in the university buildings? Obs...
Invalid exam, “bitter for the students, but it had to be done”

Invalid exam, “bitter for the students, but it had to be done”

MAASTRICHT. The Board of Examiners of the School of Business and Economics had “no other choice” than to declare the Quantitative Methods 2 exam invalid, says chairman Erik de Regt. “We stand for the integrity of exams.” Still, he does understand all too well that “this is very bitter for many students”. The...

Teaching staff are getting burned out from the crisis

THE NETHERLANDS. Since the coronavirus crisis has hit, the pressure from work has gone up, say three-quarters of the members of the Dutch General Education Association (AOb). “It's even worse than we had thought,” says AOb board member Tamar van Gelder. Teaching staff want to get back to the usual way of teaching on site, and fast. ...
"We shouldn't suffer because of their mistake"

"We shouldn't suffer because of their mistake"

MAASTRICHT. The first-year exam of Quantitative Methods 2 was declared invalid this week, because some students had cheated. Students are outraged, disappointed and angry. Not in the least because the School of Business and Economics changed the rules after the exam, as a result of which ‘insignificant’ little i...
PhD candidates must take an oath

PhD candidates must take an oath

MAASTRICHT. PhD candidates must take a public oath, promising that they will adhere to the rules of scientific integrity at all times. The valorisation paragraph has also been adapted and is now called ‘impact paragraph’. This is included in the new UM Regulations for obtaining a PhD, which will apply from October. 
Having drinks sitting at a picnic table

Having drinks sitting at a picnic table

No coughing the past few days? No temperature or runny nose? Nor any roommates with such symptoms? Good, says the girl at the entrance to the Koko grounds, to the rear of the railway lines on the Gebroeders Hermansstraat. The visitor subsequently receives a dose of disinfectant spray on his hands and is allowed to continue. Just like the rest of th...
The Ultimate Freiburger Recipe

The Ultimate Freiburger Recipe

Now that UM students are starting to toss their backpacks into the corners of their rooms and pack their suitcases to get away from stress and deadlines, I too am awfully confronted with the fact that my year abroad is slowly but steadily dawning to an end. I must admit, it comes as quite the surprise: one year always felt like ages and I never rea...

Building the Maastricht Law Faculty in Minecraft

Building the Maastricht Law Faculty in Minecraft

What does the Maastricht Faculty of Law look like in a virtual world? Now that the majority of staff and students works and studies from home, some are looking for a way to create a community. How? By building the Faculty of Law in Minecraft, a popular computer game.

Cheated: Test 1,200 SBE students declared invalid

MAASTRICHT. An exam of 1,200 students of the School of Business and Economics has been declared invalid due to cheating. That is what news website nu.nl has just reported. It would be Quantitative Methods 2, which was taken online on June 12.

#Metoo: can you act on an anonymous complaint?

THE NETHERLANDS. Touching, intimidation, indecent comments… It did not lead to a formal complaint at the University of Amsterdam. Can institutions of higher education take action in such cases? Three lawyers on the complications.
Quarantine sessions for SBE students

Quarantine sessions for SBE students

Albert Vijghen and Jim Bemelen studied Econometrics together at Maastricht University, after which they both became teachers. Vijghen teaches at the School of Business and Economics (SBE) and Bemelen at Zuyd University of Applied Sciences. In addition to their jobs, they hold voluntary “quarantine sessions” with a small group of SB...

About “What You Will Not Do”

About “What You Will Not Do”

This is my last column for Observant. I tried writing about the current situation in the world, but the image of me yelling “swim” from the shore to a drowning person wouldn’t go away. Although I had my share of drownings, I am confident they never had anything to do with my skin colour. So, to save us all from my incompetence on ...

'The UM could have been better prepared'

'The UM could have been better prepared'

MAASTRICHT. The Inspectorate of Education is satisfied with Maastricht University’s performance after the cyberattack last December. Everything was focused on the continuation of education after the Christmas period, it states in a report that was published last Friday. To this end, the Executive Board took “well-considered decisions&rd...
Big profits on the stock market or saving the coral?

Big profits on the stock market or saving the coral?

Laugh, don’t start speaking until you are in the right position, breathe calmly and from your abdomen, speak with a low voice, do not stand too close to the wall, make contact with the audience and very importantly: do not play-act. This is a selection of the presentation tips by actor Niels Lemmens. At the end of January, he gave one of the ...

ISO: Tens of thousands of students behind in their studies due to corona

THE NETHERLANDS. The number of students with a study delay has risen by 54,000, says the Dutch National Student Association (ISO) based on new research. According to ISO, this increase is due to the coronavirus crisis.

UvA lecturer discredited for ‘touching’

THE NETHERLANDS. For years, Master’s students at the University of Amsterdam have complained about the unacceptable behaviour of one lecturer, writes NRC Handelsblad. The University of Amsterdam says the article is very one-sided. The lecturer in question is still employed by the university.
Woman on a Mission

Woman on a Mission

I have a confession to make: I used to have an eating disorder. Although my family and friends know this about me, after starting my PhD at Maastricht University in 2011, I told only a few colleagues about my history. This is striking, considering I work in the Eating Disorders Research Group. I’ve always feared that colleagues would ju...

"Maastricht is no longer a ghost town"

"Maastricht is no longer a ghost town"

She had been looking forward to it all year: spring, the moment when she would only have to write her thesis and would be free to explore the Netherlands. But two weeks before her last exam, the country went into lockdown. Now, master’s student of Arts and Heritage Katharina Eiben is exploring her current place of residence: Maastricht. &ldqu...

Hello, 'above the keyboard' dressing!

Hello, 'above the keyboard' dressing!

I sharpened all my pencils. Cleaned and neatly organised my desk. Requested permission to access all Google docs and Zoom meetings. A tingling in my stomach affirms it: My second semester in Freiburg starts in two days and I am excited! Wait, back up. My second semester is about to start? While my friends over in Maastricht are dotting the I'...

UM Board: against racisme and against Zwarte Piet

​MAASTRICHT. Zwarte Piet is racist. That is now Maastricht University’s official viewpoint. On 10 June, prompted by the worldwide protests against racism, the Executive Board published a statement, in which it refers to the “diverse and inclusive” character of the UM.
On an exchange? That will also be possible at another UM faculty

On an exchange? That will also be possible at another UM faculty

MAASTRICHT. Students who do their exchange visit (partly) from home (i.e. online) next year, will still be entitled to the EU exchange grant Erasmus+. Also, non-EU students who, because of the travel restrictions, have to re-apply for a visa, need not pay the 147 euro cost. The UM will take care of that.
UM Board: against racism and against Zwarte Piet

UM Board: against racism and against Zwarte Piet

Zwarte Piet is racist, is now the official view of Maastricht University. On 10 June, prompted by the worldwide demonstrations against racism, the Executive Board issued a statement in which it emphasises the “diverse and inclusive” nature of the UM. “We are proud of our students and staff who stand up, who speak out against racis...

Novum party leader accused of misconduct in University Council elections

Novum party leader accused of misconduct in University Council elections

MAASTRICHT. Novum’s leader is said to have violated the code of conduct during the latest University Council elections. Various student parties have lodged a complaint. There will be a hearing on Thursday june 18th.
"I feel lonely sometimes”

"I feel lonely sometimes”

In March, master’s student of Strategic Marketing Belén Sánchez Ortigosa was faced with a difficult dilemma: should she get on a plane to Madrid to be with her family, or stay in Maastricht during the lockdown? She chose the second option. “I had to act very quickly. More and more flights were getting cancelled. I think I made the right...

Court sides with University of Amsterdam on use of surveillance software

THE NETHERLANDS. The University of Amsterdam (UvA) can continue to use surveillance software during online exams. This is the outcome of preliminary proceedings brought before the Amsterdam District Court by two student councils and a UvA student.

Dubious contracts for PhD students: big differences between universities

THE NETHERLANDS. There has still been no drop in the proportion of PhD students being offered a short-term contract or a part-time appointment. There are large differences between universities, however, notes the Dutch network for PhD students, Promovendi Netwerk Nederland (PNN).
“What happens when you lose your Internet connection?”

“What happens when you lose your Internet connection?”

MAASTRICHT. Online proctoring, or testing with an invigilator who can see into the student’s room. It was introduced in great haste in three Maastricht University faculties. Students were consulted at the very last moment, but not in public council meetings. Privacy objections? Dean Thomas Cleij from the Faculty of Science and Engineering: &l...
A Weinstein affair as a wake-up call

A Weinstein affair as a wake-up call

As a PhD candidate, you are about to submit an article to a journal. Just before that, an experienced colleague e-mails you that he would like to be named as co-author. This troubles you because this colleague made no contribution. What do you do?
Special nature hobbies

Special nature hobbies

In the past year, Observant accompanied three UM employees while exercising their special hobby in nature: Myrtle Brongers is a beekeeper, Cécile Luijten is a hunter and Eric Bleize is a photographer
Social isolation as unhealthy as smoking

Social isolation as unhealthy as smoking

Days after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic, governments around the world have enforced social isolation measurements to stop the spread of the virus. While the severity of the virus on human beings was still unknown, governments acted swift and with determination claiming that they’d rather “be safe than...

NWO gives crisis-stricken researchers more time

THE NETHERLANDS. Holding online interviews, easing deadlines and taking a customised approach: the Dutch Research Council (NWO) is showing its flexible side by accommodating the needs of scientists whose work has suffered delays due to the corona crisis.

Rectors: a generation of students could be lost

THE NETHERLANDS. The rectors of Dutch universities write in an opinion piece that they fear for their students’ development if options for lecture hours remain limited. The school leaders call for more room for students.

Analysis: Racism in higher education

THE NETHERLANDS. After George Floyd was killed by an American police officer, many hundreds of thousands of people all over the world took to the streets to protest against racism. But what is the current situation in terms of racism in Dutch higher education?
My self-grown donation

My self-grown donation

More than two years ago, during my first semester in Maastricht, I went to the hairdresser. The result was… embarrassing. It wasn't bad. I just looked like a 40-year-old in the body of an 18-year-old. Which, again, isn't bad. It's just not the approach to my first year I had in mind. Scarred, I didn’t go back to the hair...

Peaceful Black Lives Matters demonstration in Maastricht

Peaceful Black Lives Matters demonstration in Maastricht

MAASTRICHT. Some 1,400 people protested yesterday (Sunday) on the Griend against racism and police brutality. Among them also many (international) students.
Standing on a pole for hours on end or running 10 kilometres for a good cause

Standing on a pole for hours on end or running 10 kilometres for a good cause

It is a long time ago when collecting money for a good cause meant going around with a collection box. Every year, thousands of people are sponsored to cycle, run or take on some other physical challenge. Students and employees from the UM do their part too. Observant spoke to some of them.
“Racism is not a debate, it’s a fact”

“Racism is not a debate, it’s a fact”

Around the world, protests have been held against racism and police violence against black people and people of colour the past few days. These were prompted by the death of George Floyd in the USA, who died after having been held down with a policeman’s knee on his neck for nearly nine minutes. In Maastricht too, some two hundred people gath...
"As a ten-year-old I already knew what the Hermès logo was"

"As a ten-year-old I already knew what the Hermès logo was"

Thom Metselaar (21, Dutch), second-year student of International Business, describes his style as “basic streetwear focusing on shoes”. 
First prefabricated units for students have arrived

First prefabricated units for students have arrived

MAASTRICHT. The first prefabricated student units arrived in Randwyck last Tuesday. They still have to be furnished and hooked up to water and electricity. In two months’ time, from August, 252 students can move into this accommodation on the grounds of the former sports hall.
"I’m particularly sad that I didn’t get a chance to see what working in a hospital is like"

"I’m particularly sad that I didn’t get a chance to see what working in a hospital is like"

Sabine Kemper, master’s student of Healthcare Policy, Innovation and Management, was supposed to be doing a research internship at the hospital right now. It would have been the perfect opportunity for her to gain practical experience. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, her internship was cancelled. “This was my only opportunity to do an ...

Petition: Students must keep their average

MAASTRICHT. A student of the School of Business and Economics wants Maastricht University to introduce a "no detriment policy" due to the corona crisis. He has started a petition and hopes that the average grade that students have achieved so far will not decrease if they score worse for the upcoming exams.
Nursing homes deal with the corona rules differently

Nursing homes deal with the corona rules differently

Face mask or not? A separate room for visitors or can they just come inside? Nursing homes deal very differently with the corona rules for visitors, it appeared from initial observations by the Academische Werkplaatsen Ouderenzorg, (Academic Work Places for Geriatric Care) across the Netherlands. 
SBE abolishes online proctoring for large-scale exams

SBE abolishes online proctoring for large-scale exams

MAASTRICHT. Exams at the School of Business and Economics involving large groups of students, will not take place with the use of proctoring. That was the Faculty Board’s conclusion after the so-called stress test. Organising large-scale online exams in which dozens of employees need to be at hand to act as proctors appears to be a bridge too...
Juggling lots of balls even during corona

Juggling lots of balls even during corona

Work placement, thesis, study, politics. These are just a few of the things that keep Jonathan Felix, master’s student of Law and Labour, busy at the moment. Even during the pandemic, he has his hands full. “Three days a week, I do a distance research placement at Zuyd Hogeschool. I am taking two subjects for my master’s and I wor...

A sip of water against exam stress or not?

A sip of water against exam stress or not?

Podcasts are extremely popular and are shooting up all over the place. News, sports, food and unsolved murders: you name it and there is a podcast about it. About almost everything, thought Katinka van Kan (28) from Maastricht, who is an consciousness coach focussing mainly on students. Student life was the subject that was missing. Van Kan fi...

Tinnitus, experience days and playing the piano

Tinnitus, experience days and playing the piano

Kennedy d’Abreu de Paulo is a master’s student of Biomedical Sciences, specialising in neuromodulation. “Neuromodulation is about making adjustments to the brain or nervous system, for example through deep brain stimulation, where electrodes are implanted in the brain.” d’Abreu de Paulo talks about it with a lot of ...

Masked driver

Masked driver

Like many of you (I assume), I feel like a criminal about to rob the cashier whenever I enter the supermarket for some cherry tomatoes. I've already looked into sticking Frozen stickers on my huge mask to demonstrate my goodwill. After all, no one could possibly be afraid of someone entering the store covered in Olaf's, am I right? Sadly, t...

“My style in three words? Art, witchcraft, sexuality”

“My style in three words? Art, witchcraft, sexuality”

Diandra Agapic (19, Romanian), second-year Arts and Culture. Describes her style as “artistic and theatrical”.
Dope remains the largest despite of seat loss

Dope remains the largest despite of seat loss

MAASTRICHT. For the sixth year in a row, Dope wins university elections, although their predominance is declining significantly. The party remains represented in both the university council and all faculty councils, but goes from 25 to 18 seats. After years, Novum loses the silver medal and only wins six (last year they got eight). The turnout in t...
Duet with doorbell, by Paganini

Duet with doorbell, by Paganini

An Italian tenor who sings an aria from his balcony, a doctor who plays the violin for corona patients in hospital, and the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra that goes viral with a stream of Beethoven’s Ninth. There is great interest for classical music, but are there any digital innovations? Watching a classical concert at home using Zoom?
Waving to your colleagues in the toilet

Waving to your colleagues in the toilet

At the School of Business and Economics, it is keeping to the right as much as possible in the corridors and sometimes it is better to look to the right as well. Certainly if you are passing the toilets near the university restaurant on your way to the exit. The doors there, which have been equipped with a stick-on magnet so that you don’t ha...

“Much is still uncertain; we must consider various scenarios”

“Much is still uncertain; we must consider various scenarios”

MAASTRICHT. The University Library doors were ajar this week, the first researchers are allowed back in their laboratories, and on the Tongersestraat a trial project is being run to test the social-distancing campus. The UM is preparing itself for the ‘new normal’. “But much is still uncertain. We are preparing ourselves for somet...

Corona crisis: a quarter of non-EU students scrap plans to study in the Netherlands

THE NETHERLANDS. Only four in ten prospective students from outside Europe are still determined to come to the Netherlands to study, according to a survey by Nuffic. Due to the corona crisis, 25 percent have abandoned their application, while the rest are still in doubt.
Combatting confinement fatigue: hooray, hooray, it's a holi-holiday(?)

Combatting confinement fatigue: hooray, hooray, it's a holi-holiday(?)

Two sisters in times of corona writing about their lives in these strange and difficult times. “The surveillance society got a new dimension, at least for me. Drones fly overhead and alert you in at least 5 languages that you are walking or sitting too close to others.” Christine Neuhold is Professor of European Democratic Governance...
UM students clean up litter

UM students clean up litter

MAASTRICHT. The Klimaat Actie Netwerk is encouraging students to pick up plastic waste that has been littered. The party calls it the UM-Clean up action. Students are to fill a bag with plastic waste, take a picture of themselves at the spot they cleaned up and add a pin to an interactive map on www.climatenetwork.nl/umcleanup. Everyone who shares ...

“I just can’t get it all done”

“I just can’t get it all done”

MAASTRICHT. Many researchers have to combine their education and research with caring for children. That causes friction. It is mainly women who have too little time for research and subsidy applications. They are left with the short end of the stick, says the FEM network at Maastricht University. That is why they have addressed the issue with...
University library reopens with limitations

University library reopens with limitations

MAASTRICHT. The University Library in the city centre has re-opened. The first 75 students found a place at the library on the Grote Looiersstraat 17 last Monday.
“Fortunately, I don’t need to go looking for a job”

“Fortunately, I don’t need to go looking for a job”

She had imagined her last weeks in Maastricht to be very different: enjoying the sidewalk cafes, going out to dinner or just chilling with friends in the garden of her student house. But after four years of studying, Noortje van Nunen (21) is temporarily back living with her parents in Wilnis. “I made some wonderful friends in Maastricht and ...
Supermarket Sneeze

Supermarket Sneeze

Months ago, I wrote a paean of praise for the Mensa Canteen here in Freiburg. Needless to say, I was shaken to my core when I heard that its doors shut weeks ago due to the ongoing Corona pandemic, and a tear still manages to escape from my eye when I think about the fact that it remains closed. But where a door closes, a window opens. And now, the...

41 candidates for ten seats on the University Council

MAASTRICHT. With no fewer than 41 candidates for ten seats on the University Council, students in Maastricht are really spoilt for choice in these university elections (from 25 -28 May). This is quite different at most other universities. At the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, for example, there are just enough candidates to fill the seats and so ...
Petition against online proctoring at the UM

Petition against online proctoring at the UM

MAASTRICHT. Student party Novum has started a petition against online proctoring of exams at Maastricht University. Three faculties apply this form of digital examination, in which students are supervised by webcam. A considerable breach of privacy, which Novum feels is not allowed. In the petition, the student party refers to this type of exa...

Elections only for ICTS and FS Employees’ Councils

MAASTRICHT. No less than nine candidates have put their names forward for the ICTS Employees’ Council. There are five seats available. This means that the Employees’ Councils at the ICT department and Facility Services are the only ones to actually hold elections next week. For the other councils, this is not necessary because the numbe...

Multi-million-euro open science deal with Elsevier

THE NETHERLANDS. Dutch universities, universities of applied sciences and research institutions have reached an agreement with the scientific publisher Elsevier on open access publishing and open science.
“The anti-Dutch sentiment in Italy will fade again”

“The anti-Dutch sentiment in Italy will fade again”

“’Not a penny is to go to Italy’, the Dutch minister said. And now I have to talk to you? You’ve got to be joking!”, shouts a restaurant owner in the north Italian Vittorio Veneto to the Dutch journalist from Nieuwsuur. A number of business owners are protesting for solidarity and support from the Italian government, b...

Dutch Research Council and the lockdown: ‘Women harder hit than men’

THE NETHERLANDS/MAASTRICHT. The current crisis has thrown the allocation of research funding by the Dutch Research Council into chaos. But when it comes to shifting deadlines, the action group Athena's Angels fears female scientists are at a disadvantage.

Yes, the doors are opening again

THE NETHERLANDS. Prime Minister Mark Rutte confirmed yesterday evening that institutes of higher education will open their doors again starting on 15 June for practicals, exams and guidance for vulnerable students.
DKE designs motivational posters

DKE designs motivational posters

MAASTRICHT. The Department of Data Science and Knowledge Engineering has come up with an original way to motivate students for the exams, which will start in two weeks. Students can download motivational posters with their favorite teachers. Associate professor Kurt Driessens flexes his muscles on the first - after the well-known American post...

“I don’t have stage fright. I just prefer to let other people shine”

“I don’t have stage fright. I just prefer to let other people shine”

“I wouldn’t want to go back to my student days. I was so insecure back then. I didn’t live life to the fullest”, says Arts and Sciences alumna Tineke Oosterloo (49). She works as a journalist and has two sons with her husband, Raymond. “I’m no longer standing on the sidelines. I’m actively involved in the g...
Poems and strawberries for the elderly

Poems and strawberries for the elderly

Strawberries are red, the sky is blue, Sadly no visitors, but people are thinking of you! With these types of cheerful poems and other uplifting messages, the students from the ‘Maastricht Chamber of Associations’ (Circumflex, Tragos and Koko) are trying to raise the spirits of the elderly in Envida care homes. The messages are...

Again the cyber attack, now on TV

Again the cyber attack, now on TV

What exactly happened during the cyberhack last December? Next Wednesday, UM will once again disclose what happened in the TV programme De Kennis van Nu (The Knowledge of Now). The research institute for water technology Wetsus from Leeuwarden, which was hacked after Maastricht and got help from UM, will do the same. They both paid ransom: the UM a...

Perfect lock-down Sunday

Perfect lock-down Sunday

It almost seems impossible to have a ‘perfect’ day in these times of frustration, restrictions and isolation. In a way, it even seems wrong. But the truth is, the Corona Virus is no longer the first topic I talk about to friends when I ‘see’ them. A close second, that’s for sure, but the focus seems to have shifted fro...

Coronavirus: a €535 tuition-fee refund for those graduating late

THE NETHERLANDS. The government is allocating €200 million to support students during the current crisis. These funds will be deployed to benefit students in vocational education and training (MBO), higher professional education (HBO) and university education.

Cabinet: “No students in public transport during peak hours”

THE NETHERLANDS. Universities and universities of applied sciences will most likely be able to open their doors for essential practicals and exams in mid-June. But students should minimise their use of public transport.
Taking off with someone else’s data

Taking off with someone else’s data

As an economist, you have gotten your hands on someone else’s enormous mountain of data, which a business has made available. You know that with this data you can deliver a series of great articles. After the first publication, a colleague from the US asks if he can take a look at your rough data. What do you do? Share? With the risk that the...
Studying by 1 September? Face-to-face as much as possible in Maastricht

Studying by 1 September? Face-to-face as much as possible in Maastricht

MAASTRICHT. Unless the government throws a spanner in the works, all students will come to Maastricht again after the Summer, as far as the UM is concerned. Education activities will take place partly ‘on campus’ and partly online. Students who cannot come to Maastricht (yet), for example because they are not allowed to leave their coun...
Online election campaign will be “a lot tougher”

Online election campaign will be “a lot tougher”

MAASTRICHT. No stands in the university buildings, no flyers to hand out, no chance to speak directly with passing fellow students. It will be a lot more difficult to campaign now that it must be done digitally, expect the student parties participating in the university elections from 25 to 28 May. That is when the new student members will be chose...
“I started with my PhD in the bachelor”

“I started with my PhD in the bachelor”

Although Britt Schuurman began her master’s degree in Medicine in March, she has yet to do any clinical rotations. She was supposed to be doing a rotation in the Department of Surgery at the Laurentius Hospital in Roermond right now. “I was looking forward to doing clinical rotations, but I understand why I have to wait. I’m OK wi...

Solo rowers at Saurus are allowed to get going again

Solo rowers at Saurus are allowed to get going again

MAASTRICHT. Student sports association Saurus is (partially) open. Single-person boats (skiffs) are permitted in the water again. The rowers must adhere to a strict corona protocol. With this, Saurus is the first Maastricht student association to get going again. It is expected that other associations will follow soon.
Corona means cheesecake for breakfast

Corona means cheesecake for breakfast

That a train stopped at the seemingly abandoned train station Höxter-Lüchtringen surprised me even as I entered it to start my 6-hour long journey back to Freiburg. And not only because this was the first time that I was surrounded by anything other than the four walls I spent my self-quarantine in. I was very well prepared for this life as a on...

Rotterdam Film Festival online: unique films, on a cluttered website

Rotterdam Film Festival online: unique films, on a cluttered website

Downheartedness and self-pity. Those are the prevailing emotions in the Vluggen household at the moment. The reason is that this is the week when we invariably made our way to the Côte d’Azur for the annual highlight on a film lover’s calendar: the Cannes Film Festival. I would then subsequently have complained for the next ten days abo...

Election Magazine online

Election Magazine online

The Election Magazine can only be viewed online this year. Normally, the magazine goes along with the paper Observant two weeks before the university elections, this year from May 25-28. Because Observant is not published due to the Corona crisis, the Election Magazine is also digital. The candidates for the Faculty Councils, Univ...

Germs, Guns and Steel

Germs, Guns and Steel

My mother calls, worried. She has seen on the news that Americans are stockpiling guns and that violence is on the rise. Living in a suburb of New York, I’ve witnessed the spread of Covid-19 firsthand. Of course, gun stockpiling doesn’t take place in urban America, but mostly in rural places that you or I would never even consider visit...

"I do things now that I usually do on holidays"

"I do things now that I usually do on holidays"

It has been a strange academic year for Femke de Haan, a third-year student at University College Maastricht. Last September, she went on exchange to Canada. Soon after her return to the Netherlands in January, Maastricht University closed its doors due to the coronavirus outbreak. “I went from experiencing one new thing after another in Cana...

New collective agreement for universities: pay increase and bonus

NETHERLANDS. University employees are to receive a 3 per cent wage increase as well as a bonus of 750 euro. That is, if the union members accept the negotiators’ agreement.
A sit-up rewarded with a kiss

A sit-up rewarded with a kiss

The bad news is that UM Sports may have to remain closed until September. The good news is that the university sports centre has been offering online workouts for a while now. Observant editors want to stay in shape, too, so we decided to give it a shot. In addition to a number of videos by UM Sports instructors on social media and YouTube, UM S...

UM Guesthouse half empty; new room reservations trickling in

UM Guesthouse half empty; new room reservations trickling in

MAASTRICHT. The UM Guesthouse is currently half empty. “About 450 students have left early. Some of them even left behind all their belongings”, says Maurice Evers, head of department at Maastricht Housing. As of this week, students at the Guesthouse who decided to stay despite the coronavirus crisis and students who decided to lea...
On the temptations of predatory publishing

On the temptations of predatory publishing

A recently founded journal has asked if they could publish your research but you wonder if the editor concerned will carry out a scientific check (peer review). Do you accept the request? Or do you offer your text to another journal, which does follow the scientific guidelines?
Unclear how many new students will enrol

Unclear how many new students will enrol

MAASTRICHT. How many international students have already enrolled to study at Maastricht University next academic year? Is there cause for concern, or no reason to worry? The Executive Board won’t publish the numbers. “The situation created by the COVID-19 pandemic is exceptional, complex, and very uncertain”, says interim sp...
Coronavirus: starting on a master’s without a bachelor’s diploma

Coronavirus: starting on a master’s without a bachelor’s diploma

MAASTRICHT. Bachelor’s students who have gained almost all credits – at least 80 per cent, or 48 ECTS – of their last year, may - contrary to the norm – embark on a master’s programme at the UM in September, the Executive Board has decided.
“This is quite possible the cleanest student house in Maastricht”

“This is quite possible the cleanest student house in Maastricht”

Olsi Sokolli is a bachelor’s student of European Studies. His original plan was to go into self-quarantine at home with his family in Altamura, in southern Italy. He had already bought his ticket, but his flight was cancelled at the last minute. “I thought it was a sign.” He decided to stay in Maastricht. He was the only one in...

Hopeful? Or slick, safe and sentimental?

Hopeful? Or slick, safe and sentimental?

The plans to reopen were at the ready, but Dutch cinemas will remain closed till June 1. And anyone casting a glance at the release list for the coming months, will see that film distributers also don’t expect cinemas to be up and running fully any time soon. Although there are a number of premieres planned from the beginning of June, most of...

Rector Rianne Letschert warns of potential ‘collapse’ of Dutch universities

MAASTRICHT. If the universities can no longer open for the foreseeable future and students stay away, there is a chance that some could collapse. Student cities could also be badly hit, warns Rianne Letschert, Rector Magnificus at Maastricht University.

Studying in September: ‘On campus if possible’

Universities are doing their level best to provide online working groups and lectures during the COVID-19 pandemic. The question is whether up-coming students want distance education. Is studying during the pandemic worth the bother? It certainly is, the universities promise. With a new campaign and accompanying slogan, they want to convince pro...

Postponement but no cancellation for international students

THE NETHERLANDS. International students still want to come to Europe, but more than half want to delay it by a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This was the outcome of a large survey by the QS Intelligence Unit.
“I was afraid that Maastricht was headed in the same direction as Italy”

“I was afraid that Maastricht was headed in the same direction as Italy”

Bernardo Centofanti from Rome is a master’s student of International Business who works as a tutor teaching the course Finance 1.5. Just before the university closed, he moved out of his semi-studio flat and into a student house with five others. They all decided to stay in Maastricht. “I can imagine why people who live alone or don&rsq...

"Also this generation students must be able to take a blow"

"Also this generation students must be able to take a blow"

THE NETHERLANDS/ MAASTRICHT. “We must be able to take a blow, which also applies to this generation of students. If their first reaction to the corona crisis is ‘How will I be compensated?’, then I think that is very sad. ” That is what rector Rianne Letschert said last Sunday evening during a television debate with experts ...
Self-Quarantine Day 9/14

Self-Quarantine Day 9/14

  On the first day of my 14-day quarantine in Germany, a letter from the ministry of health was already waiting for me on the kitchen table. It contained all the things I was allowed to do during the upcoming two weeks and, more importantly, everything I absolutely wasn't if I didn't want to spend my precious pocket money on a big f...

Accepting money from companies, but still remaining credible

Accepting money from companies, but still remaining credible

You are commissioned by a company to investigate whether a drink provides energy. The results are without a shadow of a doubt: there is no connection between the drink and energy levels. However, you estimate that there is a good chance of follow-up assignments. Do you adapt your formulations in the journal so that you can stay in the race?
Almost 35,000 euro of emergency aid for UM internationals; there are still funds available

Almost 35,000 euro of emergency aid for UM internationals; there are still funds available

MAASTRICHT. The emergency fund that was set up by Universiteitsfonds Limburg/SWOL for students suffering from money problems because of the corona crisis, has already paid out about 35 thousand euro. The same amount is still available for on-going or new applications.
Compromising between safety and humanity

Compromising between safety and humanity

The many deaths, the family that is not allowed to visit, all this has left its mark on doctors and nurses. At MUMC+, the so-called psychosocial team keeps a close watch on the healthcare workers. “Society can applaud for you as hard as they can but, in the end, it comes down to the support from your colleagues.”
“I want to make sure everyone is doing well”

“I want to make sure everyone is doing well”

Jeanine Brouwer teaches three courses: a research practical and an academic writing course for psychologists, and a course on Addiction to third-year students of the Faculty of Health, Medicine & Life Sciences. She sometimes feels like her students wake up fifteen minutes before their morning sessions begin (at 8.30 a.m.). She laughs. “I ...

‘Give foreign graduates more time to find a job’

THE NETHERLANDS. Corona crisis or not, students from outside Europe must find a job within a year after graduating. Otherwise they will be sent back to their own country, the ministry of Justice and Security confirmed.
Prime Minister Rutte (briefly) joined a Maastricht tutorial group

Prime Minister Rutte (briefly) joined a Maastricht tutorial group

MAASTRICHT. And then suddenly, the Prime Minister of the Netherlands appears in the Zoom tutorial group meeting. That happened to the students at University College who were taking the Macrosociology block. What was that like? “Great!” “Quite an honour.” “That I get to experience that as a foreign student. I will never...

Youths protest against online proctoring

THE NETHERLANDS. Having your webcam on while you take an exam? Preferably not, say young politicians and students. They have serious objections against ‘online proctoring’ and demand an alternative.
Serbia’s Political Corona

Serbia’s Political Corona

“We are all in this together” – well, not really. The part “this” differs quite a lot depending on your luck and the place you live. Under the luck I consider the employment, possibility to work from home, housing, and mostly having all people you care about healthy and safe. Another important differentiating factor is...

Three women to lead FASoS

Three women to lead FASoS

MAASTRICHT. The new Faculty Board at Arts and Social Sciences (FASoS) consists completely of women. This has never happened before at Maastricht University. Moreover, all three have foreign nationalities.
“My hair has been all the colours of the rainbow”

“My hair has been all the colours of the rainbow”

Anna Krikun (21, Russian/Swedish), third-year student of Psychology, describes her style as  “minimalistic and romantic”.
“I can’t really get to know my students now”

“I can’t really get to know my students now”

Alexander Carlo teaches Financing Emerging Markets, a second-year course in the bachelor’s programme International Business, as well as Corporate Finance in the master’s programme. Things have been going well so far, he says, although it feels a bit odd to be talking to a screen all day. Some days, he teaches four Zoom tutorials a day. ...

The many shades of deconfinement

The many shades of deconfinement

In the following email exchange two sisters, who work in very different fields, reflect on how gradual deconfinement affects their work and lives. Christine Neuhold works on EU affairs at Maastricht University and lives in Brussels. Stephanie Neuhold is Head Doctor in charge of the ‘Covid 19 intensive care unit’ of a Viennese hospital. ...
Alternative Inkom: mainly digital

Alternative Inkom: mainly digital

MAASTRICHT. Two weeks ago, Maastricht University’s crisis management team decided that there would not be a normal Inkom this year. The decision was taken in consultation with the Working Group Inkom (WGI). “Initially, we were of course very disappointed,” says chairperson Milou Berdenis van Berlekom. But after a brief period of t...
“Online education is exhausting; sometimes I need a nap”

“Online education is exhausting; sometimes I need a nap”

Anja Dekanski works as a tutor at University College Maastricht. This block, she’s teaching a first-year course called Research Methods 2, as well as a course called Strategy & Negotiation for second- and third-year students. “Within a week of the university closing, the block coordinators and us tutors prepared everything to go onl...

Not many jobs for the ‘Job bank’

Not many jobs for the ‘Job bank’

MAASTRICHT. Some university employees have been extra busy since the corona crisis, others have had very little to do. Since the beginning of April, the UM departments with a lot of work can report to the so-called ‘Job bank’. An employee from another department, where there is less work, then takes over the job. Except not much use is ...
 1 Boeing 777 for 20 people

1 Boeing 777 for 20 people

Arriving at the airport in Singapore accompanied by 80s radio tunes was surreal, to say the least. I felt like the whole world except for me discovered how to teleport, making airports obsolete and leaving them deserted. Seeing another human being in the departure hall that is usually buzzing with people ready to see their loved ones, enjoy their h...

"I can't plan anything"

"I can't plan anything"

(Wo)man at work. That was the name of a series about students and the jobs they do, published last academic year. How are they doing during the corona crisis? Can they do anything for their employers or have they been sent home? Aside from the students in the series, we will also hear from others. This time: Emmy Maas, master’s student o...

University Council against FPN’s alternative plans for money for quality agreements

MAASTRICHT. May the Faculty of Psychology and Neurosciences adapt the quality agreements? Can the money that has been freed up with the abolishing of the basic grant be used differently than was previously agreed? The University Council does not think so.​
“French cyclist girl” found!

“French cyclist girl” found!

Last week, Observant ran a story about Hugo Engels, employee at the Language Centre, who was trying to find a French cyclist he’d met while he was out cycling on Easter Sunday. His search didn’t take long. Engels has found his missed connection! A brief recap of the story: Engels and the young woman talked for just a few minutes unti...

“This isn’t what I thought my last semester would be like”

“This isn’t what I thought my last semester would be like”

Nici Friedman, third-year student at University College Maastricht, still lives in her student house in Maastricht. She went to her parents for Eastern. But she couldn’t go home for a longer period of time even if she wanted to, she jokes. “I have a lot of plants that would probably die if I left. I stayed here because my parents live r...

"Do you accept privacy problems just because it works well?"

"Do you accept privacy problems just because it works well?"

MAASTRICHT. To Zoom has almost become synonymous to video calling. Maastricht University has recently taken out a licence for professional use of the video and meeting app. No worries, the institute said, with the necessary precautionary measures using it is safe. But is that the case? It is true that Zoom is a user-friendly app – t...

Dutch big five pension funds lose €77bn in Q1 as coronavirus hits markets

THE NETHERLANDS. Four of the five biggest Dutch pension schemes have been hard hit by coronavirus-related panic on the financial markets, and their coverage ratios have shrunk to around 85%, according to first quarter figures.
“Every morning between 5 and 7 a.m., I wrote two pages of my dissertation”

“Every morning between 5 and 7 a.m., I wrote two pages of my dissertation”

When he was in his first year at University College Maastricht, then twenty-year-old Jeroen Janssens dreamed big dreams. He wanted to be an astronaut. “Lots of freedom, far away from home. And it’ll make me famous, I’d love that.” After his time in space, he would retire to a farm. He never claimed to have green fingers, tho...
Countdown to Germany

Countdown to Germany

Friday the 10th of April, 7 am, Singapore. A small group of three headed over to the bus station, wearing face masks and desperately trying not to touch their faces that nowadays seem to start itching as soon as you set foot outside. Fifteen minutes later, the same group arrived in a part of town that they only rarely visit, a part where they stood...

Hospitals get ready to start treating non-coronavirus patients again

THE NETHERLANDS. Family doctors have made 360,000 fewer referrals to hospitals since the government first brought in measures to stem the spread of coronavirus on March 12, the national health council NZa said on Monday.
Words matter

Words matter

Many were quick to point out that ‘social distancing’ was a poor choice of words, including the President of our university. What we need in times of pandemic is ‘physical distancing’ accompanied by social solidarity. I have seen the latter cleverly described as viral solidarity. This is a nice play on solidarity during the ...

“I feel like Alice in Wonderland”

“I feel like Alice in Wonderland”

The right man in the right place. This would be an accurate description of Professor Stefan Hild, who is currently working to get ETpathfinder – a testing facility for the Einstein Telescope – off the ground. Hild’s entire career has been devoted to gravitational waves, detecting signals in particular. “There is always the r...
Missed Connections: man looking for French woman on Bianchi bike

Missed Connections: man looking for French woman on Bianchi bike

Observant received quite an urgent email this week. Hugo Engels, employee at the Language Centre, is looking for a woman he met while cycling on Easter Sunday. The only thing he knows about her is that she works at Maastricht University. Observant doesn’t have a Missed Connections section, but we’re happy to make an exception. The hi...

First applications from students in financial difficulties being processed

MAASTRICHT. The first sixty applications by students in financial difficulties are being dealt with by the University Fund, SWOL. Two weeks ago, the fund started a crowdfunding venture for students who were skint because of the corona crisis. More than 34 thousand euro has been collected since then. A maximum of 1,500 euro is awarded per applicatio...
At one and a half metres from the nachos with cheese sauce

At one and a half metres from the nachos with cheese sauce

It doesn’t look like the cinemas will be reopening their doors any time soon, albeit that market leader Pathé has been working on a plan for ‘one-and-a-half-metre cinemas’. NRC published an article on the subject: only one quarter of the seats will be sold (online), employees will wear ‘attendance vests’ and ...

Gratitude in the Time of Corona

Gratitude in the Time of Corona

It might be a callous idea to suggest that we be more grateful during a worldwide pandemic, where people have lost loved ones or are suffering from illnesses themselves. When schools have gone online and daycares, like our borders, have closed. Where hanging out with friends have become a finable offense and the news – both true and fake &nda...

Job number one, two and three

Job number one, two and three

(Wo)man at work. That was the name of a series about students and the jobs they do, published last academic year. How are they doing during the corona crisis? Can they do anything for their employers or have they been sent home? Aside from the students in the series, we will also hear from others. This time: Roel Niemark, master’s studen...

Corona virus: majority of Summer School courses cancelled

MAASTRICHT. Most of the 55 courses offered by the Maastricht Summer School will not take place because of the corona crisis. A selection of eighteen that are also suitable for online distribution, will go ahead. That is to say, if there are sufficient enrolments.
Being a Future Graduate in Times of Corona

Being a Future Graduate in Times of Corona

Let’s go on a short time travel journey: the date is February 2020. A time when the Corona outbreak has not reached a global pandemic level yet. I am working slightly stressed but focused towards my master’s degree, screening the job market and sending the first applications for autumn 2020. “Getting there”, I am telling mys...

A lot of agitation about the corona crisis in the student fraction of the University Council

A lot of agitation about the corona crisis in the student fraction of the University Council

MAASTRICHT. Not in the usual small hall but online: last Wednesday (8 April), the University Council had a meeting via Zoom for the first time since the corona crisis. It was especially the student fraction that is worried about the impact.
"I find it such a pity that I can’t put some money aside"

"I find it such a pity that I can’t put some money aside"

(Wo)man at work. That was the name of a series about students and the jobs they do, published last academic year. How are they doing during the corona crisis? Can they do anything for their employers or have they been sent home? Aside from the students in the series, we will also hear from others. This time: Cyriel Huntjens, master’s student ...
Avoiding loneliness, even if it is at the expense of income

Avoiding loneliness, even if it is at the expense of income

(Wo)man at work. That was the name of a series about students and the jobs they do, published last academic year. How are they doing during this corona crisis? Can they do anything for their employers or have they been sent home? Aside from the students in the series, we will also hear from others. This time: Kristel Zaal, third-year...
On loss of smell, rehabilitation and poor predictions

On loss of smell, rehabilitation and poor predictions

Formulating research questions, obtaining funding, joining forces with other universities – before the coronavirus pandemic, these kinds of things took forever. Now, they seem to be achieved overnight. Studies related to COVID-19 and the novel coronavirus are springing up like mushrooms all over the world, although their quality som...

Number of students stranded abroad is decreasing

MAASTRICHT. Today (9 April) there are still 24 Maastricht students who are stranded abroad and want to return home. It concerns students who were on an exchange visit outside Europe. Last Wednesday, the number was 36 people.
Singapore in "Circuit Breaker mode"

Singapore in "Circuit Breaker mode"

Monday, the 6th of April - Orchard Road, Singapore It is 3 in the afternoon and Orchard Road is buzzing as if it were the weekend. Not unusual for the number 1 shopping street in Singapore, filled with stores ranging from Dior and Gucci over to H&M and Cotton On. Apart from the handful of people that seem to have ignored the news over the la...

Coronavirus is just the beginning

Coronavirus is just the beginning

The European Central Bank (ECB) is printing money like crazy in response to the coronavirus. It is creating up to €750 billion to purchase government bonds (to prevent indebted Eurozone states from going bankrupt) and up to €3 trillion to incentivise banks so they lend money to companies and maintain liquidity in the economy. This is arou...

“My faith gives me the feeling that everything is going to work out”

“My faith gives me the feeling that everything is going to work out”

Law student Leonie Frissen is one of the students who live in the building used by Lux ad Mosam, the Christian student association in Maastricht. Although many students have left the city, Frissen’s student house is still quite full. “Eleven people usually live here. There are eight of us here now.” Eight people sheltering in p...

UM psychologist: students can’t find us online

MAASTRICHT. The Maastricht University psychologists have noticed that it is tougher to reach students who are not actually present at the university. “They are receiving a lot of information, you can tell that they are focussing mainly on their education,” says team leader Mieke Jansen. The students that do come to us have remarkably fe...
Cleaning ambulances as a Red Cross volunteer

Cleaning ambulances as a Red Cross volunteer

Thierry Bleijswijk, master’s student of Public Policy and Human Development, has been a volunteer with the Netherlands Red Cross for four years. He usually works at music festival Pinkpop or André Rieu concerts, but he’s currently doing volunteer work at the hospital. “We support health care professionals in their work”, say...

“Luckily, I was able to work twice as much the month before lockdown”

“Luckily, I was able to work twice as much the month before lockdown”

Spring has come with the best and sunniest days in a while, yet we are still in quarantine, trying to slow down the spread of the virus. At the same time, restaurants and bars are still shut down and students still struggle to make ends meet. In this video we have Michael Keith, a third-year student of Arts and Culture at the Faculty of Arts a...
Exam only in June

Exam only in June

Second-year student of Psychology Victoria Ebert has “gone back to her childhood days”, she says via Skype, laughing. She has returned to her father’s vineyard house, where she lived until 2011. “After that, I went to school abroad and lived with my mother in Berlin.” Public life in Germany has been largely shut dow...

“You wouldn’t put a student from Vancouver in the morning group”

MAASTRICHT. The School of Business and Economics has adapted its schedules for 120 foreign students for period 5 (starting on April 14) in order to prevent those students from having to attend tutorial group meetings at ungodly hours. The students concerned are exchange students – from countries such as Australia or the  US – who l...
Post-Corona Mindset

Post-Corona Mindset

We’re all looking forward to the day that we don’t have to live in the constant fear of COVID-19 anymore. The day that our hearts don’t make a jump when our phones ring because we suspect that, in the end, someone we love did get infected with Corona. The day that we can do cartwheels in the local park again - something we didn&rs...

Changing role of student association: keeping in contact and boosting morale

Changing role of student association: keeping in contact and boosting morale

MAASTRICHT. Online drinks, answering pupils’ questions, and challenging each other through Instagram challenges: all activities having been cancelled, student associations are attempting to keep in contact with their members through all kinds of ways in order to keep spirits up. The reduced activity will have no influence on the boards’...
The first tutorial group starts at two-thirty in the morning

The first tutorial group starts at two-thirty in the morning

MAASTRICHT/NEW YORK. From Tuesday, 14 April, Nils Kok, associate professor at the School of Business and Economics, who lives in a suburb of New York, will set the alarm for two o’clock in the morning. Half an hour before the first of four tutorial groups starts. His teaching day finishes at around twelve o’clock in the afternoon, local...
Wearing a face mask while training for a half marathon

Wearing a face mask while training for a half marathon

Jasmina Peneva, a research master’s student of Cognitive Neuroscience, travelled back to her home country of Bulgaria last Sunday. She’s not staying with her parents, but in a family friend’s flat. “As the Netherlands is a ‘red zone’, I had to be quarantined for two weeks. My parents need to leave the house for w...

‘A tale of two sisters’

‘A tale of two sisters’

Two sisters that come from very different fields, shed light on how Covid 19 has changed their work and lives. Christine Neuhold is professor  EU Democratic Governance at Maastricht University (FaSoS) and lives in Brussels, where she directs UM Campus Brussels. Stephanie Neuhold is Head Doctor in charge of the Intensive Care Unit of Infectious...
“The payments were fraudulent, but he didn’t commit fraud”

“The payments were fraudulent, but he didn’t commit fraud”

MAASTRICHT. VitaK, the now bankrupt subsidiary company of Maastricht University, was not supervised closely enough, allowing conflicts of interest to arise. And Leon Schurgers, a UM professor who used to work for VitaK, was involved in questionable activities with false invoices. These are the results of an investigation conducted by UM after local...
“I’m just staring at the ceiling, wishing I would stop thinking”

“I’m just staring at the ceiling, wishing I would stop thinking”

These are very difficult days for Maja Niekrasz, first-year student of European Law. “I have struggled with depression and anxiety all my life. I tend to overthink everything. I got help a couple of years ago and I’ve made a lot of progress since then, but right now I feel like I’ve moved back a few steps.” Her brain is w...

SBE master’s students accused of plagiarism

MAASTRICHT. Now that the first online exams have been made, there are also the first cases of fraud. For example, ten out of the hundred master’s students who did the take-home exam for the subject of Behavioural Finance this week, used exactly the same words to answer a number of questions. They will get a NG (No Grade) for their exams and e...
“Even at its worst, I don’t expect a situation like in Italy”

“Even at its worst, I don’t expect a situation like in Italy”

The peak in the number of those infected and fatalities will most likely come in April, or possibly in May. Because of the corona measures taken, the epidemic is not growing exponentially, but it is growing, says professor Christian Hoebe, member of the Outbreak Management Team (OMT) that has been advising the government. That is why the measures h...
Nine million members, and that for a provider of obscure classics

Nine million members, and that for a provider of obscure classics

No more moaning about my aversion to video on demand (VOD): let’s take a look at another VOD provider. After Picl and Film 1, we focus on MUBI this week. What is MUBI? MUBI was set up in 2007 – at the time under the name ‘The Auteurs’ – by Turkish entrepreneur and Stanford alumnus Efe Çakarel. His motivation? Fru...

The Netherlands extends anti-corona measures to April 28, at least

THE NETHERLANDS. Special measures to stop the spread of coronavirus in the Netherlands are to be extended until April 28 at least, prime minister Mark Rutte told a press conference on Tuesday.  ​
UCM-student: apartment is empty, roommates went home

UCM-student: apartment is empty, roommates went home

Elisabeth Hiller, a second-year student at University College Maastricht, spent the past two weeks at a fellow student’s house in The Hague. “She invited me to stay with her so I wouldn’t have to be alone if a total lockdown was announced.” As it doesn’t look like the Netherlands will go into a full lockdown, she will ...

It's quiet in Lars van Laar's student house

It's quiet in Lars van Laar's student house

It’s quiet in the student house where Lars van Laar, second-year student of Psychology, lives. “Twelve people usually live here, now there are only four. We buy groceries for each other to reduce unnecessary trips to the supermarket. If the weather is nice, we often spend the afternoon sitting in the garden or watching a film together. ...

Dutch will announce tonight how long to extend the ‘intelligent lockdown’

THE NETHERLANDS. Dutch ministers, health experts and other officials are meeting on Tuesday afternoon to discuss how long the Netherlands will extend what prime minister Mark Rutte has described as an ‘intelligent lockdown’ in the country’s bid to get coronavirus under control.  ​
Technology keeps us connected

Technology keeps us connected

Are you tired of social distancing? Luckily, it is 2020 and technology has got your day's social calendar covered. If you are used to starting the morning off with some exercise but need your local yoga group or exercise buddies to really get going, you can join forces through plenty of streamed classes. And for those interested in going the...

Our flat is too small for two people to live in 24/7

Our flat is too small for two people to live in 24/7

Master’s student of Policy & Human Development Maren Slangen took her final written exam without even knowing it. “I was supposed to take two more, but the programme directors decided to assign us an online oral exam and a take-home assignment instead because of the corona crisis. I prefer written exams – they give you more ti...

“I wish I didn’t have to spend so many hours finding out what my rights are”

“I wish I didn’t have to spend so many hours finding out what my rights are”

With the new threat of the COVID-19 many restaurants and bars have closed leaving many people without a job. But what about the students of Maastricht who support themselves and are on a zero-hour contract? European Studies student Gabriela Štěpková is one of them and she is the first of this series of video interviews to share her story with Obser...
Find the new in the old

Find the new in the old

In times of seeing the other as a threat, A virus carrier from whom I have to hide away, I started overindulging, no longer afraid of getting fat, For, will I not stay inside until I’m old and grey?   I think back to life before quarantine, To sunshine and running to hug friends, Instead of eyeballing them: “Ar...

Coronavirus hospitalisations near 4,000, Dutch death toll hits 864

THE NETHERLANDS. The number of people who are or who have been hospitalised with coronavirus almost hit 4,000 overnight, the public health institute RIVM said in its Monday update.​
Ultra-tight Speedo swimming trunks and an oversized man’s body

Ultra-tight Speedo swimming trunks and an oversized man’s body

Just like my colleague reviewer Mark Vluggen, I am not a fan of streaming services and organisations such as Netflix or Disney Channel. As far as I am concerned, film belongs on a large screen or else on DVD or Blu-ray. But as has been said, necessity (read: Corona) knows no laws. Let’s see what a provider like Film 1 has to offer. What is...

Covid 19: 'Staying in and reaching out'

Covid 19: 'Staying in and reaching out'

The coronavirus has the world in its clutch. Not only does it have its own name (SARS CoV2), and its own disease (Covid-19) but more importantly it has been coined as a Pandemic by the World Health Organisation. The health emergency of the disease has thus been lifted to the highest level. ​The impact of this virus on the way we live, work, lear...

“There is no negotiating on the quality of the diploma”

“There is no negotiating on the quality of the diploma”

MAASTRICHT. You can't replace a multiple-choice exam for 800 students by a take-home exam. Marking would be unfeasible. So, what then? Postpone the exam and hope that it can take place in the Mecc before September after all? Or look for alternatives? The UM Examination Boards are focussing on dilemmas like these and are searching for solutions ...
Meeting up for drinks on Skype

Meeting up for drinks on Skype

Eline van Gorp, second-year student of Medicine, has been assigned a new tutor. Her usual tutor is an infectious disease specialist; she’s too busy working in the lab to lead any online tutorial sessions at the moment. Tutorials are going very well, says Van Gorp. “We have someone leading the session, someone taking notes – i...

“We are stuck in Costa Rica”

“We are stuck in Costa Rica”

Communication advisor Caroline Roulaux was looking forward to a quiet touring holiday – “enjoying some nature, taking it easy” – when she and her hubby boarded a plane for Costa Rica on 10 March. Yes, the corona virus was already finding its way to places outside China, but cancel the trip? No, the couple felt that that woul...
"We shouldn’t lose sight of the human side of things"

"We shouldn’t lose sight of the human side of things"

MAASTRICHT. All Maastricht education is to be carried out remotely until the end of the academic year. But what does that mean for staff and students? Tutorial groups work through Zoom, Microsoft Teams or Blackboard; lecturers are working on online lectures. But what about large-scale exams in the MECC? What are the alternatives?
“This may affect international student intake in particular”

“This may affect international student intake in particular”

Is 2019/2020 a “lost year” because of the crises Maastricht University has had to face? Will all this affect the intake of new students in September? Will students get their tuition fees back? Will UM continue to offer online education in the future? And how much does a crisis like this cost? These are just a few of the questions put to...

Almost all Randwyck research stopped

Almost all Randwyck research stopped

The Faculty of Psychology and Neurosciences and research institute CAPHRI and have discontinued nearly all their research. CARIM is running a few ‘vital processes’ and are doing their utmost to keep laboratory animals and cells that are being cultivated alive as well as possible. At UNU-MERIT in the city centre, it is largely business a...
Exam at home instead of in the Mecc

Exam at home instead of in the Mecc

“Pretty much all of my friends have left Maastricht”, says Hayden Bunn, a second-year student of the European Law School programme. He also considered going back to the United States, but ultimately decided to stay. “At first, it was unclear how long the university would be closed. I thought it’d be a waste of money to fly h...

“Colleagues now take coffee breaks together on FaceTime”

“Colleagues now take coffee breaks together on FaceTime”

Add structure to your day, find a balance between working, studying and relaxing, keep in touch with others online, and give yourself some time to figure out how to go about all of this. Those were the main takeaways from the webinar 'Dealing with anxiety and stress during the COVID-19 pandemic', which was broadcast on YouTube and other soc...
Online exams and sleepless nights

Online exams and sleepless nights

Until two weeks ago, second-year student of International Business Hadia Arab lived in an apartment in Maastricht. "I subrented that place and could arrange something with the main tenants." Now, she is living with her parents in Heerlen again. “The university is closed for the time being. I don’t have to be in Maastricht in t...

Distance academic education until 1 June?

Distance academic education until 1 June?

THE NETHERLANDS. The government has prohibited all gatherings until 1 June because of the corona crisis. But the ministers were non-committal with regard to education.
Nearly all Caphri research suspended

Nearly all Caphri research suspended

MAASTRICHT. Almost all research at the Caphri institute, most of which focusses on public health and care innovation, has been halted. This means that nearly three hundred researchers are now at home, many of whom will face delays. “At the moment, we cannot estimate the financial consequences,” says scientific director Maurice Zeegers. ...
Looking at the flowers in the gardens

Looking at the flowers in the gardens

Not a day seems to pass by anymore without at least three new e-mails updating me about how Corona is affecting my life. By the time I'm writing this, Maastricht University has sent out its 15th Corona update. My current University in Freiburg comes very close to this number too. In Freiburg (as in Maastricht), the Corona outbreak is met wit...

“We had to rush to Schiphol Airport”

“We had to rush to Schiphol Airport”

Sahander Nur Ozdil, a first-year University College Maastricht student, has several suitcases in her room. They belong to her father. “He was here two weeks ago to give me moral support. He had to leave for Turkey in a hurry when the Turkish government announced it was closing its borders. We had to rush to Schiphol so he could catch the last...

“I love Limburg, but I also really wanted to leave”

“I love Limburg, but I also really wanted to leave”

When he was 18 years old, Jean Dohmen wanted to go to university in Groningen or Amsterdam. He liked the idea of being far away from Heerlen, where he grew up. He ended up going to Maastricht, only 25 kilometres away from his hometown. “I never regretted that decision.” Choosing between the busy Randstad and Limburg is a recurring theme...
Corona behaviour: It’s simply human psychology

Corona behaviour: It’s simply human psychology

In the past days, there has been unrest in my neighbourhood. Many people are upset that children are playing outside, people are going for walks, and customers stand too closely at the supermarket. In contrast, many say we’re exaggerating, we should go about our life as much as possible, and didn’t the RIVM say it’s okay for child...

UM researchers: corona is given high priority

UM researchers: corona is given high priority

MAASTRICHT. The research group led by Peter Peters, professor of Nanobiology, is to set aside some of its regular research, in as far as there are people in the lab, in order to free up time to research the coronavirus. Specimens of the virus will be studied in the lab in the hope of setting the next step in the development of a medicine or vaccine...

Maastricht has cancelled all face-to-face education until summer

MAASTRICHT/THE NETHERLANDS. Maastricht University and Leiden University have cancelled all face-to-face education for the rest of the academic year. Other universities and universities of applied sciences are considering doing the same.
Binding study advice deferred for all Maastricht first-year students

Binding study advice deferred for all Maastricht first-year students

MAASTRICHT. All Maastricht first-year students who find themselves with too few credits at the end of August and therefore do not meet with the requirements of the binding study advice (BSA), will be given respite, the Executive Board has decided.
“Four people my grandpa used to play cards with have died”

“Four people my grandpa used to play cards with have died”

Sara Mazzini, a student in the research master’s programme Cognitive and Clinical Neuroscience, has nowhere to be, but she is trying to maintain some sort of routine in this time of corona crisis. “I was following a Dutch language course, but the classes got cancelled as of today. I want to dress nicely, take the time to cook and keep e...

COVID-19: A Great Lesson for Global Warming

COVID-19: A Great Lesson for Global Warming

It’s been 7 days since COVID-19 was announced as a global pandemic. It’s been approximately 5 days since a variety of countries have closed their boarders. At the same time: it’s been approximately 7 days since the roads have been almost uninhabited, since the number of flights per day has considerably decreased, since carbon e...

"With the cyberattack we were alone, now it's a worldwide crisis"

"With the cyberattack we were alone, now it's a worldwide crisis"

​After the cyber crisis at the turn of the year, Maastricht University must now face the coronavirus. Again, a crisis management team (CMT) has been set up, and again Vice President of the Executive Board, Nick Bos is its leader. “With the cyberattack we were alone and had to find our own way, now it is a worldwide crisis and we can lean part...
“I’m not showing any symptoms yet”

“I’m not showing any symptoms yet”

Pabita Kister, a second-year UCM student, has been quarantined in her parents’ home in Düsseldorf since last Saturday. “It’s unclear whether I’ve been infected”, she emphasises. “I’m not showing any symptoms yet.” But one of her housemates in Maastricht was very likely infected with the coronavirus. &...

Students help in hospital, GGD and in neighborhood

Students help in hospital, GGD and in neighborhood

MAASTRICHT. Many students want to contribute towards the containment of the corona crisis. Also in Maastricht where here and there sheets of A4 with telephone numbers have been hung up. Professor Christiaan Hoebe, head of Infectious Disease Control Zuid Limburg Health Authority (GGD), is impressed by the help offered, but would like to inform the s...
Tip for faculties: put knowledge clips online

Tip for faculties: put knowledge clips online

All PhD ceremonies have been postponed because of the corona measures, although soon it will most likely be possible to conduct these online. Gwen Noteborn would sign up for that. Also, because it fits in seamlessly with her thesis about IT innovations in education. And it is a topical matter: her American co-supervisor is confronted with a travel ...
Many exchange students leaving Maastricht

Many exchange students leaving Maastricht

MAASTRICHT. As the lecture halls remain empty, the corridors of Guesthouse UM and The Student Hotel are growing quieter and quieter as well. We don’t yet know exactly how many students have left, but last weekend at least a hundred of them checked out of the Guesthouse early. This number is only expected to increase in the days to come, says ...
“My family is very worried about me”

“My family is very worried about me”

Samuele Livraghi, a first-year student enrolled in the Maastricht Science Programme, is from Lombardy in northern Italy. Although no one in his family has yet been infected with the coronavirus, the situation back home is “quite stressful. New cases are diagnosed every day.” Health care in Italy is very good, says Livraghi. “And i...

UPDATE: UM shifts to online teaching

UPDATE: UM shifts to online teaching

MAASTRICHT. As of Monday 16 March 2020, UM has shifted completely to online teaching. How exactly are faculties going about this? Have they come up with alternatives for large-scale exams that needed to be cancelled? Will exams be postponed to the summer, potentially ruining both lecturers and students’ holiday plans?   ...
Are student houses corona-proof?

Are student houses corona-proof?

NEDERLAND. It’s better not to organise parties, nor is it a good idea for five people to watch a film on a two-seater sofa. Students need to use common sense in this crisis.
Covid-19 measures: how are students reacting?

Covid-19 measures: how are students reacting?

MAASTRICHT. What do the preventative measures that have been taken to curtail the spreading of the coronavirus mean for student associations and organisations? Observant asked the four largest – Koko, Tragos, Circumflex and Saurus – and found out that they immediately closed their doors on Thursday. Initially, Saurus wanted its rowers t...
Dangerous Daughters and their Heavy Travel History

Dangerous Daughters and their Heavy Travel History

When my aunt traveled to Singapore a bit less than three weeks ago, she was met with raised eyebrows from her colleagues. “Is it really wise what you are doing?”, they asked her condescendingly. “Do you really want to go to Asia?" By that point, there weren't any COVID-19 cases in the Netherlands yet, and everyone seemed ...

“The tutorial was maybe even more productive than usual”

“The tutorial was maybe even more productive than usual”

European Law School student Mashid Mojabi attended her first online tutorial session last Monday. She’s happy that her faculty is continuing to provide education via the Internet. “I’m a fourth-year student. I’d like to get my degree.” The switch to online teaching was made quickly, says Mojabi. “I only heard abo...

UPDATE: no PhD defences for time being

UPDATE: no PhD defences for time being

MAASTRICHT. The Executive Board has decided to postpone all academic sessions, at least until April 6.
Observant: only online for the time being, not on paper

Observant: only online for the time being, not on paper

MAASTRICHT. Observant will only be published online for the next few weeks (www.observantonline.nl) and not in printed form. This has to do with the measures taken to curtail further spreading of the coronavirus as much as possible: students are no longer allowed to enter UM buildings, education activities are carried out online, and staff members ...

NWO also on hold

NETHERLANDS. Dutch Research Council and funding organisation NWO is not conducting any interviews with applicants for research grants for the time being. Applicants will most likely have to wait a few anxious months more because of the corona crisis.

UPDATE: University Library closes its doors, all UM buildings closed for students and staff as of 16 March.

UPDATE: University Library closes its doors, all UM buildings closed for students and staff as of 16 March.   MAASTRICHT. Maastricht University has closed its doors for students with effect from 16 March. This includes the University Library. All education activities will be online for the time being. Mass exams have been cancelled. Thes...

Only distance education, mass exams cancelled

Only distance education, mass exams cancelled

MAASTRICHT. As of Monday, 16 March, Maastricht University will only provide distance education. Compulsory attendance has been abolished, mass exams – such as those in Mecc – for block period 4 have been cancelled. Employees should work from home as much as possible.
UM still open, but makes preparations for possible (partial) closure

UM still open, but makes preparations for possible (partial) closure

MAASTRICHT. The University of Antwerp has been locked down, Denmark has closed all schools and universities, the university sports centres of Tilburg and Eindhoven will remain closed until at least Monday, 16 March, and the TEFAF art fair was discontinued prematurely last night. The Executive Board of Maastricht University sees no reason ...
Give me some sleep

Give me some sleep

Sleep. Something that most students definitely lack but at the same time desperately want. I, personally, daily struggle with doing all my readings, meeting my friends, making enough food to sustain myself, go outside to have breaks and so many more little tasks that just happen to be due that day AND still get enough sleep. Every task is important...

XIOR disputes rent tribunal judgment

MAASTRICHT. Student housing company XIOR, owner of the Carré building on the Tongersestraat and other property, is going to court to appeal against two decisions taken by the rent tribunal. The tribunal, which is an independent organisation that formally settles conflicts between tenants and property owners, recently ruled in favour of two tenants ...
Corona: Students launch petition ‘Shut down Maastricht University’

Corona: Students launch petition ‘Shut down Maastricht University’

MAASTRICHT. Last Tuesday, three Italian students launched a petition in which they urge Maastricht University to close its doors because of the coronavirus. Within twenty hours, it was signed more than a thousand times. But for the time being, closure is not on the cards. Students in Randwyck are already noticing the effects of the stricter me...
“Does everybody understand the message of the RIVM?”

“Does everybody understand the message of the RIVM?”

The amount of coronavirus infections is increasing in the Netherlands, but according to the government we are still in the ‘containment stage’. Rigorous decisions have therefore not yet been taken. What do Maastricht scientists think of the actions of the National Institute for Health and the Environment (RIVM)? According to the book? O...
“More than ever before, I’ve found my place”

“More than ever before, I’ve found my place”

Somewhere deep down inside, Lieke van den Krommenacker (39) always knew what she wanted to do with her life. But more than once, she let herself be swayed by… well, by what, exactly? Following other people’s dreams and expectations? Making the kinds of decisions she thought an adult should make? The point is: more than once, she went d...
MUMC cancels events; no more interns in operating theatres

MUMC cancels events; no more interns in operating theatres

MAASTRICHT. While Maastricht University is not cancelling any education activities, exams or events yet because of the coronavirus, MUMC steps up measures by calling off all meetings and receptions until 1 April. In addition, students who are doing internships are not allowed inside the operating theatre for the time being. Nor are they given any o...
Giving money is not done, offering help is

Giving money is not done, offering help is

You want to interview refugees and migrants on their journey, but they must – as is good scientific practice – first give permission and sign a form. Many refugees however, will never put their signature on anything. How do you deal with that? Also, what if a participant asks for money? Can you always refuse?
Fewer evening patrols by city law enforcement units

Fewer evening patrols by city law enforcement units

MAASTRICHT. The city of  Maastricht is facing a budget deficit of 12 million and needs to economise. Part of the measures presented by the Mayor and Aldermen last week, is reducing the number of evenings on which law enforcement units patrol. This has caused great disappointment in the Buurtbalans residents’ platform.
“I’m not afraid to show my femininity now”

“I’m not afraid to show my femininity now”

Céline Kleckner (20, German), third-year student of Psychology, describes her style as “classic and daring”. 
International Women’s Day: much more than just women’s rights

International Women’s Day: much more than just women’s rights

“Whatever we wear, wherever we go, yes means yes and no means no.” “Hey-hey, ho-ho, homophobia has got to go.” It’s Sunday afternoon, 8 March, International Women’s Day. Quite a large group has assembled on the Vrijthof. A flag saying “Women of the World Unite!” has been attached to the iron railing o...

Staff member has tested positively for the coronavirus

Staff member has tested positively for the coronavirus

MAASTRICHT. A member of staff from Maastricht University’s department of Data Science and Knowledge Engineering has tested positively for the coronavirus. This was confirmed by the South Limburg Health Authority on Thursday, 5 March. The person concerned lives in Aachen and has stayed at home by way of precaution, having probably contracted t...

Elsevier reports women gaining ground in research

THE NETHERLANDS.  Worldwide, women in research continue to trail far behind men. But the gap is narrowing, science publisher Elsevier reports ahead of International Women’s Day on 8 March.

Coronavirus closes schools, most Dutch infections traced to northern Italy

THE NETHERLANDS. As the death toll from coronavirus in the Netherlands hits three and the number of confirmed cases was put at 264, Dutch health officials say there is as yet no reason to take further precautions or increase the rate of testing.
’S klane Glücksspiel

’S klane Glücksspiel

Sun - smiles - semester break I long debated how to brag about my deadline-free horizon. And then decided that I won’t. Instead, I will give you a taste of a Freiburgian semester break. And what better way to do that than by giving you the ultimate Freiburg playlist? Thus, I hereby present you with Freiburgian Mukke - 7 songs that the musi...

Concerns about work pressure because of mentor programmes

MAASTRICHT. The Faculty of Law is appointing about seventy lecturers next academic year, as mentors to supervise all first-year students (roughly seven hundred). This plan is the result of the quality agreements, the funds that became available after the abolishment of the basic grant and that universities and universities of applied sciences inves...
Rotterdam noise

Rotterdam noise

It's been a month since I moved to Rotterdam, the windy city. So, I replaced my bike with an OV chip card and I usually take a bus or a tram wherever I go. This traffic opportunity, in return, creates a lot of noise in the city.
No corona virus diagnosis at UM, but some students have reported sick

No corona virus diagnosis at UM, but some students have reported sick

MAASTRICHT. So far, 25 students from Maastricht University have reported sick for education activities. They will stay at home because they are sneezing or coughing or have a fever in combination with having recently returned from a high-risk area for the corona virus, such as Northern Italy. In such cases, the UM advises to remain at home for two ...
Tapijn carré buildings opened

Tapijn carré buildings opened

MAASTRICHT. There is still a big excavator in the yard and some builders are still walking around here and there through the building, but last Monday the first batch of UM moved into the carré buildings on the Prins Bisschopsingel. This included the University Library and SBE.
“I want us to present ourselves clearly as a joint Health Campus”

“I want us to present ourselves clearly as a joint Health Campus”

She is proud of Maastricht University, MUMC+, and the Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, and dearly wants to make her contribution. Still, Annemie Schols, the new dean of FHML per 1 June, thought long and hard before she sent off her job application letter. “A new step should suit who you are. I think for me it was the logical nex...
“I’m straightforward, I’m Austrian”

“I’m straightforward, I’m Austrian”

MAASTRICHT. Christine Neuhold, professor of EU Democratic Governance and director of UM Campus Brussels, will be the new dean of the Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences. She will succeed Professor Sophie Vanhoonacker as from 1 September 2020.

Chinese academia now also rejecting pressure to publish

CHINA. Chinese universities are to end their fixation on publication scores in leading journals, China’s government has announced. It plans to steer a new course.
Tutorial and council at the same time: that results in punishment

Tutorial and council at the same time: that results in punishment

MAASTRICHT. Tutorial and council meeting at the same time? Whatever one you skip as a student, your absence will be penalised. This must be stopped, feels the student fraction of the University Council.
Making minced meat of a thesis

Making minced meat of a thesis

You are on an assessment committee as a professor and you feel that the quality of the thesis concerned is below standard. At the same time, the five articles meet the required scientific standard, because they have all been published. Do you make a point of it or not?
“I only got four hours of sleep, which may affect the quality of my answers”

“I only got four hours of sleep, which may affect the quality of my answers”

We’re walking through Utrecht Science Park, hunched into our coats to protect ourselves from the fierce wind whipping around the dreary buildings. One of the massive concrete structures is covered in green scaffold netting, not because it’s under construction but to prevent debris from falling down and killing people. It’s not exa...

Corona in the Netherlands; classes continue

THE NETHERLANDS. Wash your hands, sneeze in your sleeve and use paper tissues. Beyond that, says the Dutch government, there’s little students and schools can do to stop the coronavirus.
“I purchase the same shoes again and again”

“I purchase the same shoes again and again”

Harriot Grinnell-Moore (22, British), second-year UCM student, describes her style as “quite classic, not too bold”.
Ich packe meinen Koffer

Ich packe meinen Koffer

We’ve all played it as kids: I'm going on a trip and I'm taking with me [fill in the blank]. And now here I am, standing in front of my suitcase, staring around the room, and whispering “Ich packe meinen Koffer und nehme mit…” like a mantra. The windows are wide open as I try to get the blue sky and fluffy clouds...

The posters say it all

The posters say it all

Carly Sunol (19, Barcelona), studies Biology and Philosophy at UCM, pays 470 Euros for a 15m2 room in Daalhof, where she lives with two housemates.
Possible ban on smoking in UM Randwijck from 23 March

Possible ban on smoking in UM Randwijck from 23 March

MAASTRICHT. From August 2020, all education premises in the Netherlands must be smoke-free. Randwijck may even start sooner. The Rookbeleid UM (UM Smoking Policy) working group suggested that they should start on 23 March. The Executive Board “looks upon this favourably”.
"Sloppy science is often not intentional, but due to lack of knowledge"

"Sloppy science is often not intentional, but due to lack of knowledge"

Research integrity isn’t at the forefront of everyone’s minds yet, says UU professor of Jurisprudence Ton Hol, who was the main author of a report for a network of European universities on this subject. Universities should work on that. There’s room for improvement of scientists’ knowledge of methods of research an...
In Uruguay, a vegan diet is almost akin to treason

In Uruguay, a vegan diet is almost akin to treason

There’s a good chance Maastricht University will be known as the hamburger university someday. Our very own Mark Post skyrocketed to worldwide fame after presenting his hamburgers made from lab-grown cultured meat (real meat grown directly from animal cells) to the press. His company Mosa Meat aims to fundamentally change the way meat is prod...
Student housing rents

Student housing rents

An often-heard complaint in Maastricht is that the cost of student housing has increased a lot over the past years. Indeed, if you take the snazzy rooms at the Student Hotel as an example, it seems like finding an affordable place to live in Maastricht is something that is a thing of the past. The topic of student housing is one of many debates ...

UM judgement in fraud case complete, but not made public

UM judgement in fraud case complete, but not made public

MAASTRICHT. The Executive Board has taken a decision in the case in which a PhD candidate accused her cardiology professor of research fraud. This was based on the advice from the Committee for Scientific Integrity. The two outcomes will not be made public. The Board says it is maintaining its “duty of confidentiality” that applies to t...
No ‘taxpayer’s’ money to cybercriminals

No ‘taxpayer’s’ money to cybercriminals

MAASTRICHT. The ransom that was paid to the cybercriminals on 29 December after they had put a digital lock on Maastricht University’s computer systems, did not come from the UM’s regular reserves. The sale of a company from UM-Holding just prior to the hack, had yielded enough to pay the almost two-hundred-thousand-euro ransom.
Two new deans: Harald Merckelbach for Psychology, Annemie Schols for FHML

Two new deans: Harald Merckelbach for Psychology, Annemie Schols for FHML

MAASTRICHT. Harald Merckelbach, Professor of Forensic Psychology, is to become dean of the Faculty of Psychology and Neurosciences again as of 1 May. He will succeed Professor Anita Jansen, who was awarded a major Gravitation subsidy  (20 million) and is now returning to research. Annemie Schols, director and researcher at Nutrim, will su...
She got the job she wanted, but she didn’t like it: “It was a complete let-down”

She got the job she wanted, but she didn’t like it: “It was a complete let-down”

She was only seventeen years old when she came to Maastricht University to study Arts and Sciences in 1994. Very young, Ariane Hendriks (43) thinks, looking back now – especially because she went straight from living with her parents in Veenendaal, a town in the centre of the Netherlands, to living in Maastricht, almost two hundred kilometres...
What to do with fossil fuel investments: divest vs shareholders’ pressure

What to do with fossil fuel investments: divest vs shareholders’ pressure

MAASTRICHT. In what should the university’s pension fund ABP invest its – or better said, the pensioners’ – money? Fossil Free Maastricht wants them to stop investing (divest) in fossil fuel companies as soon as possible. ABP’s policy is to stay engaged with the companies to put pressure on them to make changes. The wa...
In Uruguay, a vegan diet is almost akin to treason

In Uruguay, a vegan diet is almost akin to treason

There’s a good chance Maastricht University will be known as the hamburger university someday. Our very own Mark Post skyrocketed to worldwide fame after presenting his hamburgers made from lab-grown cultured meat (real meat grown directly from animal cells) to the press. His company Mosa Meat aims to fundamentally change the way meat is prod...
“The Dutch have a nice style, but I miss the cuteness and elegance”

“The Dutch have a nice style, but I miss the cuteness and elegance”

Yingyi Wu (26, Chinese), PhD candidate at FHML, describes her style as “simple with good taste”. 
A prophet who was not honoured in his own country

A prophet who was not honoured in his own country

Geert Hofstede is no longer with us. He died on Wednesday, 12 February, at the age of 91 in Ede, his place of residence. For years, the emeritus professor of Maastricht University was known as ‘the most quoted economist in the Netherlands’. Which is bizarre, because if there was anything that Hofstede wasn’t, it was an economist. ...

Wir können alles…

Wir können alles…

…außer Bildungspolitik. (“We can do everything. Except for education (literally: ‘educational policy’).” It’s written in big letters on the sweater that my professor is wearing in this last week before exam week. It’s a joke that’s part of a running gag based on the slogan of Baden-Württemberg, th...

Hardly any discrimination against Asian UM students

Hardly any discrimination against Asian UM students

MAASTRICHT. A Dutch carnival song about the coronavirus and Chinese, which was broadcast by Radio 10 DJ Lex Gaarthuis, led to a lot of criticism from various Chinese-Dutch organisations. They felt it was causing hatred and discriminating. It was even reported to the police. Various national media wrote elaborately on the matter with long stori...
UM researchers get involved in discussions during film festival

UM researchers get involved in discussions during film festival

What could the future look like by the year of 2040 if we simply embraced the best available solutions to improve our planet? If we would shift them rapidly into the mainstream? Questions from the documentary 2040 by the Australian filmmaker Damon Gameau. The film was set up as letter to his 4-year-old daughter. What kind of world is she heading to...
Students are not swayed by rankings

Students are not swayed by rankings

MAASTRICHT. With the Keuzegids in hand, Observant visited the bachelor open day last Saturday. To what degree do prospective students use the rankings by these self-proclaimed Dutch “independent study programme comparison list” as guidance? Do they choose University College Maastricht because it has been at the top o...

Letter bombs go off in Amsterdam and Kerkrade, no injuries

THE NETHERLANDS. Letter bombs have gone off at an ABN Amro post sorting office in Amsterdam’s Sloterdijk business estate and at a post sorting office in Kerkrade, police confirmed on Wednesday morning.
Italians in Maastricht; not for the food

Italians in Maastricht; not for the food

Aside from the ‘usual suspects’ – the Dutch, Germans and Belgians – the number of Italians at Maastricht University is growing more quickly than any other nationality. Two-hundred and twenty-five were added for a bachelor’s and 150 for a master’s in 2019. The second places in these categories: France with 125 new...

“Maastricht was a perfect stepping stone to a future in London”

“Maastricht was a perfect stepping stone to a future in London”

Six months ago, Kate Surala (26) started writing a book. Where does she find the time? It’s a fair question as she spends already plenty hours a week as a partner and chief compliance officer at a London-based equity research firm. But she loves writing and she’s a good one, as evidenced by the weekly series of restaurant reviews she wr...
“Style is like art: I draw myself through clothes”

“Style is like art: I draw myself through clothes”

Karim Morgenstern (20, German), Biomedical Sciences, 1st year. Describes his style as: “alternative and vintage”.
Seven languages to say: “comfort, relax and simplicity”

Seven languages to say: “comfort, relax and simplicity”

Shanice Benson (18, German-Irish), first-year student Maastricht Science Programme (FSE) pays 351 Euros per month for an 8 m2 room at the Guesthouse

50,000 sign coronavirus petition, as Chinese community speaks out

THE NETHERLANDS. Nearly 50,000 people have now signed an online petition denouncing discrimination against people of Chinese origin in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak since it was launched at the weekend.
How a spaceship landed in the Bertoldstraße

How a spaceship landed in the Bertoldstraße

“It means destroying that which we are presently incapable of understanding. Forgive me, but I am not an advocate of knowledge at any price.” It is the week before exam week, but something else is occupying my every thought: a spaceship landed in the Bertoldstraße - one of the main streets in Freiburg and, coincidentally, the street ...

Football not spoken here

Football not spoken here

At the Dies, focused on academic leadership, our rector talked about talented researchers who, as the English might say, ‘could not organize a piss-up in a brewery’ (and we’ve all experienced some of those). She made a comparison with great footballers who do not enjoy comparable success as coaches (such as Dennis Bergkamp, m...

More university lectures should be available to everyone online: VVD

THE NETHERLANDS. Far more university and college lectures should be available remotely for the general population to watch, according to MPs from the right-wing Liberal VVD.

Temporary contracts: large differences between universities

THE NETHERLANDS. Whereas one university readily hires lecturers and ‘assistant professors’ on a permanent basis, another prefers to offer its teaching staff temporary positions. The differences between institutions are large, says the Rathenau Institute.
‘New start’ for student services bureau Jules

‘New start’ for student services bureau Jules

MAASTRICHT. The real estate management of student services bureau Jules, which was declared bankrupt in December, is to be taken over by GeWOON in Geulle, curator Joep Tummers from Paulussen Advocaten announced. It is not really a new start, because GeWOON will not be offering the other Jules services, such as the language courses and the movi...

Coronavirus and the Asian Invasion

Coronavirus and the Asian Invasion

“As Coronavirus Spreads, So Does Anti-Chinese Sentiment,” read a recent headline from The New York Times. The article continued to report on the wave of Sinophobia spreading along with the deadly outbreak, which the World Health Organization has now declared a “global health emergency”. The measures taken to contain the cont...

“Great moral objections” against paying a ransom

“Great moral objections” against paying a ransom

MAASTRICHT. It is now official: yes, a ransom was paid to the cybercriminals who hacked the UM systems on 23 December. And yes, the amount was almost two hundred thousand euros. Why was the UM not adequately protected? The Executive Board’s answer to this question has many different shades. And no, it is not likely that any personal data...
You move your head and the world turns with you

You move your head and the world turns with you

It’s about 10 o’clock in the morning. Someone staggers along the footpath. With great effort, he prevents himself from falling to the ground. Drunk at this time of day? Or is something else going on?
“I do all kinds of things, then you get noticed”

“I do all kinds of things, then you get noticed”

“What do you think that it is?” Eleonore (Leo) Köhler, professor of Clinical Anatomy, asks while pointing to a circa 40-centimetre-high statue on her desk. “I have thought long and hard about it and I think it is a one-winged angel bending forward. The statue, a certificate and a “huge bunch of flowers” form the Wynand...
“The bigger the better”

“The bigger the better”

Anna Yeo (20, British), exchange student at UCM, describes her style as “lots of different patterns and colours”.
Solution to the conflict between UM and PhD candidate

Solution to the conflict between UM and PhD candidate

MAASTRICHT. The conflict between a PhD candidate and Maastricht University has been solved, to the extent that the researcher, after mediation by professor Harald Merckelbach, can return to work. Her contract will be extended until May 2021, a year longer than was planned. This will enable her to compensate for the ‘lost’ months (a...
“We can all change the system together, because we are the system”

“We can all change the system together, because we are the system”

“Academic leadership: does it exist at all?” If it had been up to UM rector Rianne Letschert, this would’ve been the slogan of UM’s 44th Dies Natalis. The idea was shot down by her team members, and Letschert concurred that the statement “doesn’t do justice to the many, many colleagues who actually possess [acade]...
Rector: Dismissing non-functioning leaders must become easier

Rector: Dismissing non-functioning leaders must become easier

MAASTRICHT. More must be done to train and support leaders in the academic community and it must become easier to remove non-functioning leaders from leadership positions. Rector Rianne Letschert argued this in her welcome speech to the 44th Dies Natalis last Friday. She also proposed to remove the distinction between academic staff and support sta...
“It’s easy to underestimate the complexities of living abroad”

“It’s easy to underestimate the complexities of living abroad”

The first time she visited Jordan, UCM alumna Floortje Rawee (28) already loved the country. But she never expected that, by 2020, she would’ve been calling it home for three years and counting. Her internship at the Dutch embassy in Amman led to a job. In September, she started working at the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palest...
Europeans, learn to live with Trumpism; it is here to stay

Europeans, learn to live with Trumpism; it is here to stay

MAASTRICHT. In her inaugural lecture on January 30th, professor of Foreign Policy Analysis & Transatlantic Relations Roberta Haar analyzed U.S. President Trump’s policy in an historical context. This is an abbreviated version of her lecture, entitled: Is the Trump phenomenon a symptom or the cause for sh...
Everyday Schlaraffenland

Everyday Schlaraffenland

They always said it didn’t exist: the Schlaraffenland - the land of milk and honey. The land of plenty, where the portions are bigger than you could ever stomach, where you can choose from five types of dessert every single day, and where every Friday, you can get a humongous bowl of Milchreis (rice pudding) with sugar, cinnamon and cherries ...

Maastricht contributes to snake venom research

Maastricht contributes to snake venom research

MAASTRICHT. It was world news last week: researchers from the Hubrecht Institute have cultivated a mini venom gland that can actually produce snake venom. The University of Maastricht also contributed: Peter Peters, professor of nanobiology, and Carmen López Iglesias, associate professor of cell biology, made microscopic images of the cells of orga...
Update UM: don't travel to Chinese province of Hubei

Update UM: don't travel to Chinese province of Hubei

MAASTRICHT. Maastricht University advises its students and staff not to travel to the Chinese province of Hubei, with Wuhan as epicentre of the outbreak of the corona virus.
UM’s sustainability policy is inadequate

UM’s sustainability policy is inadequate

Half the CO2that humans ever emitted were spat out since 1990. And emissions are still increasing. An overwhelming array of floods, wildfires, heatwaves, starvation, water shortages and conflict will threaten our survival.  The 2018 IPCC Report estimates that emissions must decrease by 40-50 per cent by 2030to limit global warming to 1.5 degr...

Research fraud case UM-professor reopened

Research fraud case UM-professor reopened

MAASTRICHT. The cardiology professor who was claimed to have committed fraud is to receive a fourth opportunity, outside the regular procedure, to defend herself. The request was made by the Executive Board. The Commission for Scientific Integrity had already completed its advice.
Delicious Italian food

Delicious Italian food

Last week, I was in Italy to attend a funeral. An old friend’s wife had passed away. Although it was a sad occasion, it also felt – as funerals tend to do – like a reunion of sorts. That feeling was reinforced by the meals we shared with family and friends the evening before the funeral and the following afternoon. We talked ...
“Suddenly, you have a family of your own”

“Suddenly, you have a family of your own”

From Hollandaise sauce to Indian dal, UCM student Tim Aretz included many different recipes in Eat, drink and be merry, his weekly series of food articles for Observant. He came very close to opening his own restaurant when he was in his thirties – in Canada, no less. But life had something else in store for him.
“We talk too much ‘about’ instead of ‘with’ people”

“We talk too much ‘about’ instead of ‘with’ people”

MAASTRICHT. No driving a car without a driver’s licence. No tutoring a group without a basic teaching qualification (Basis Kwalificatie Onderwijs, BKO). But until now, taking on the role of a leader at Maastricht University was possible without having done any course or training. That is about to change. The UM has recently started offer...

“Good hope” that neither scientific data nor personal information has been stolen

MAASTRICHT. Was or is scientific data in danger as a result of the cyberattack on 23 December? It appears that this was not the case. What about the privacy of students and staff? If personal information has been hacked, that would be a risk. But the UM’s management is optimistic.
“I would dare to say to a friend that I don’t like a particular item of clothing”

“I would dare to say to a friend that I don’t like a particular item of clothing”

Lien Tormans (18, Belgian), first-year student of Psychology, describes her style as “provocative with items that not everyone would wear”. 
“It shouldn’t be weird that a colleague takes a moment to sit on the floor and do a breathing exercise”

“It shouldn’t be weird that a colleague takes a moment to sit on the floor and do a breathing exercise”

He travelled the world, became a yoga teacher and now combines that with being a student. When he came to Maastricht University to study at the University College Venlo, Filippo Oglialoro hoped to find scientific evidence for what he experiences with yoga. Fast forward three years and Oglialoro is about to finish his bachelor’s thesis, for wh...
Museum hopping into the night

Museum hopping into the night

Museums that hide wonders in the middle of the night. Artifacts that come to life. Now, I'm literally citing books and movies. "You even stole part of the title from a 1993 children's book and 2006 film!" Very true, good catch. In fact, last Friday I even thought I was trapped in the movie myself: Night at the Museum - Basel ed...

The Netherlands is well prepared for the coronavirus, health official says

THE NETHERLANDS. The Netherlands must take into account the fact that some people may become ill with the coronavirus, given it has now been identified in Europe, a senior Dutch public health official has told the Telegraaf.
“Scholars should be at the forefront, not watching from above”

“Scholars should be at the forefront, not watching from above”

What is the role of academics in times of environmental crisis? That was the main question at the debate at the School of Business and Economics last Wednesday, organized by Students4Climate Maastricht and Sustainable Maastricht 2030.  Where some panel members emphasized the steps that have already been taken, others – together with many...

Cyberattack started back in October; Utrecht was secured

MAASTRICHT. The cyberattack on Maastricht University may have only erupted to its full extent on 23 December 2019, the first breach took place more than two months before. This was reported by well-informed sources. Fons Elbersen, interim spokesman for Maastricht University, does not want to comment. “We will give answers to such questions on...
UPDATE PhD candidate remains banned from the lab

UPDATE PhD candidate remains banned from the lab

MAASTRICHT. A PhD candidate from Maastricht research institute Carim who was denied access to the laboratory, will not have her keys returned to her. This was the conclusion of the judge last Tuesday. With this, the court has decided in favour of Maastricht University. The PhD candidate doesn’t need to be there, because she has no supervisor....

One million euro a year extra for FSE

MAASTRICHT. Maastricht University has officially received access to the experiments with CERN’s particle accelerator, the European organisation for nuclear research. There, to the west of Geneva, Maastricht researchers can now carry out extensive research.

FPN wants to spend the money for educational improvements differently

MAASTRICHT. The agreement made by students in the University Council and the Executive Board last year was for more intensive contact hours for all first- and second-year students. The Faculty of Psychology and Neurosciences now thinks that they can spend the money in a better way.
When things are not easily put into words

When things are not easily put into words

MAASTRICHT. Written articles may be the most common scholarly medium, but why are alternatives like film so undervalued? Filmmaker and cultural historian Paul Craddock gives talks at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and will be running a workshop at the Faculty of Health, Medicine & Life sciences on how to include film in academia.
“I realised that I didn’t need to be girly”

“I realised that I didn’t need to be girly”

Eva Gabrílovíca, 20 year’s old, 2nd year student of Psychology, describes her style as “comfortable and a mix of skate and street wear”.

UM Medical bachelor’s students invited to renowned UK congress

MAASTRICHT. A group of ten honours students from the Faculty of Health, Medicine & Life Sciences (FHML) was selected to hold a poster presentation at the renowned British Society for Immunology Congress. And no, that is not common. Normally, only researchers – not seldomly from Harvard, Oxford and Berkeley – are given that privilege...

Inkom theme: Enter the unknown

The theme of Inkom 2020 was announced by the Inkom Working Group during a constitution event on Friday. This year, ‘Enter the unknown’ has been chosen. “We see Inkom as something comparable to diving in at the deep end,” says chairperson Milou Berdenis van Berlekom. “You are starting something new, something unfamiliar...

In the dark, dark forest

In the dark, dark forest

In the dark, dark South of Germany is a dark, dark forest. And in this dark, dark forest is a tiny dark town. And by this tiny dark town is a dark, dark path through the woods. And on this dark, dark path through the woods walk three girls, looking for adventure. The beginning of a horror story? The story of a random Friday night’s event? ...

“You need luck to make it in academia”

“You need luck to make it in academia”

It’s 9.00 a.m. on a Monday morning in mid-December. Jan Machielsen (35), senior lecturer in history at Cardiff University in Wales, is still in his Paris hotel. After our telephone interview, he’ll head for the library to continue working on his research. “On foot. There’s another strike going on. Public transport, including...

University academics campaign against structural, unpaid overtime

THE NETHERLANDS. A number of campaigning academics are reporting their universities and colleges to government inspectors for failing to take crack down on structural unpaid overtime.
Time Flies When You Are Getting Older

Time Flies When You Are Getting Older

When I was a child, my grandpa would tell me: “Time moves faster the older you get. You watch, Jessica. Your life will pass you by in the blink of an eye!” I was an anxious child, and these words sunk into me. So much so that every New Year’s Eve I would cry because another year had passed, and I was getting old. My grandpa&rsq...

“Those hackers will most likely never be found”

“Those hackers will most likely never be found”

Reports indicate that Maastricht University paid a couple of hundred thousand euro ‘ransom’ to the cybercriminals who locked down the university just before Christmas, and having done so, received the key to gain access to its systems again. Supposedly, the amount was paid in bitcoins, the currency hackers like to deal in. Why is crypto...
“I get to choose a new pair of shoes every three months”

“I get to choose a new pair of shoes every three months”

Rychenda Paulussen (24, Dutch), third-year student of Dutch Law, describes her style as “the current trend”.
University of Calgary: “We’re a public sector organization and pride ourselves on our openness”

University of Calgary: “We’re a public sector organization and pride ourselves on our openness”

The University of Calgary paid a 20,000 Canadian dollar ransom in bitcoins to hackers after a malware attack in May 2016. In contrast to Maastricht University, which was hit before Christmas and is still recovering, the Canadian colleagues admitted almost a week after the attack that they paid the ransom, as well as releasing the amount paid. Why d...
“Extreme carelessness? It appears to be more like misconduct”

“Extreme carelessness? It appears to be more like misconduct”

Last week, Observant reported about the Maastricht PhD candidate who accused a professor of Cardiology, her former supervisor, of academic fraud. Three experts consulted, all biologists who specialise in integrity matters, give their extensive views regarding this case.

Parliamentary debate on UM cyberattack

MAASTRICHT. ​There is soon to be a parliamentary debate on the cyberattack that hit Maastricht University just before Christmas. The exact date is not yet known. On 5 February, the UM itself will “reveal all” during a public meeting in Maastricht. The hack will be subject of discussion during a private meeting of the University Cou...
YUFE information session: “How is a YUFE student different from an exchange student?”

YUFE information session: “How is a YUFE student different from an exchange student?”

MAASTRICHT. Two courses in Maastricht, four in Finland, one in Madrid, and then three more in Cyprus. As of coming September, this might actually be a study year of a Maastricht University (UM) student. Last Monday morning, students and staff gathered for the first time in the Saint Jan’s Church on the Vrijthof for an information session abou...

"The question about the ransom will also be answered then”

MAASTRICHT. On 5 February (rather than 6 February, as was initially stated by the Executive Board), Maastricht University will “reveal all” about the cyberattack. During a public meeting, the UM intends to present its findings concerning the ongoing investigation into the hack, and provide answers to (almost) all the questions. That inc...
Offline

Offline

Due to unfortunate circumstances, I'm by far better at keeping my new year's resolutions than anticipated. I'm reading more, I've cleaned my whole room top to bottom, and I’m listening to my new favourite podcast Zeit Verbrechen so much that Sabine Rückert, who does most of the talking and explaining in the podcasts, is alread...

Participation councils and student boards more accessible to international students

THE NETHERLANDS. As of this year, it will be much easier for international students to join a participation council or sit on the board of a student association. Internationalisation organisation Nuffic and the Dutch National Student Association (ISO) are pleased with the news.
 Executive Board withdraws proposal for dean appointment procedure, University Council conflict solved

Executive Board withdraws proposal for dean appointment procedure, University Council conflict solved

MAASTRICHT. The Executive Board has withdrawn the proposal for a new procedure for the appointment of faculty deans (the highest position in a faculty). In doing so, the conflict with the University Council, which arose at the end of September, has ended. It also means that in the future there will be only one member of the Executive Board on ...
Maastricht professor of Cardiology accused of academic fraud

Maastricht professor of Cardiology accused of academic fraud

MAASTRICHT. A Maastricht professor of Cardiology is accused of academic fraud by her former PhD candidate. She is alleged to have falsified data and to have doctored pictures to make them look better in subsidy applications. The case is currently with Maastricht University’s Committee for Scientific Integrity. At the same time, the ...
#MeToo: You Too?

#MeToo: You Too?

If you’re a woman, you’ve probably experienced at one point, some form of sexual harassment in an academic setting. Whether it was during your studies, during a meeting, during a social gathering, or during a conference. Being a person that has experienced that myself, and knowing colleagues that have experienced it too, we always wonde...

Reconstruction of the cyberattack based on facts and plausibility

Reconstruction of the cyberattack based on facts and plausibility

23 December 2019, 19:35hrs. Personnel from the UM’s IT service ICTS notice that various systems are slowing down. The permanent internal crisis team CERT (Computer Emergency Response Team) sounds the alarm. The UM has been hacked. Within an hour, they are on the spot; they will stay all night. In vain: the UM network is down, including the e-...

Eliminating the effects of the cyberattack could take weeks

MAASTRICHT. It could take weeks before all the effects of the cyberattack have been eliminated. But last Monday, education programmes started up again with hardly any problems. On Tuesday, the e-mail system was back online again and the network disks that are so important to researchers, were fully accessible. Sister universities are meanwhile taki...
“I’d hop on a plane to go interview Sylvester Stallone”

“I’d hop on a plane to go interview Sylvester Stallone”

He didn’t really have big dreams for his future, so he didn’t try to pursue anything in particular. “I was never working towards a specific goal. One thing just led to another,” says Eugène Baak (51). His career in journalism began when he was a student at Observant. He later interviewed film stars like Sylvester Stallone an...
“The UM is solid as a rock in times of crisis”

“The UM is solid as a rock in times of crisis”

MAASTRICHT. If there is anything we have seen during this recent cyberattack, said President Martin Paul last Monday at a well-attended New Year’s reception in the Bonnefantenmuseum, it is the community spirit within this university. Some staff did not have a Christmas holiday, but instead had to make long working hours. “The crisis man...

“Colleagues here at DKE said: “If everything is up and running again within a month, they will have paid”

“Colleagues here at DKE said: “If everything is up and running again within a month, they will have paid”

MAASTRICHT. To everyone’s relief, the e-mail system could be used this Tuesday. But on the first Monday of 2020, that wasn’t possible yet. How did that day go? And what do students and staff think about paying ransom money?
On New Year's Resolutions

On New Year's Resolutions

Utrecht - Arnhem - Oberhausen - Duisburg - Düsseldorf — I watch the train stations come and go as I go more and more south. As I slowly trade open, green fields with singular trees that somehow seem lost in the landscape for the dark, overpowering black forest. And with every city that I leave behind, my excitement grows. Excitement to get ba...

“Even as a child I wore strange things”

“Even as a child I wore strange things”

Robin Pocornie (23, Dutch), research master’s student of Cognitive Neurosciences, describes her style as “unexpected, different every day. I also like to push the boundaries between female and androgynous.”

Monday 6 January and e-mail system still not up and running

MAASTRICHT. Monday, 6 January 2020, the first day back after the Christmas holidays, staff and students still cannot use the UM’s e-mail system. There is no access to the Internet and the data files on network disks either. It may take a few more days before all of this is up and running again, the UM announced in Update #12.
Update: Wi-Fi restored; computers allowed to be switched on

Update: Wi-Fi restored; computers allowed to be switched on

MAASTRICHT. Just over a week after the cyberattack targeted at Maastricht University, more and more systems are working again. A (partially) operational Wi-Fi network has been added to the (partially) accessible student portal and Blackboard/Eleum. Students and staff can also use their computers or devices again.
“How long is all this going to take?”

“How long is all this going to take?”

Most students and staff are still enjoying their holidays, but Maastricht University has nevertheless opened its doors again on Thursday, 2 January. After the cyberattack, just before Christmas, the university is trying to inform all those concerned in a variety of ways. As of today, the web-based FAQ list, the dedicated telephone line and e-mail a...
Cyberhack: Maastricht University pays ransom

Cyberhack: Maastricht University pays ransom

MAASTRICHT. Maastricht University, which was hit by a cyberattack just before Christmas, paid the ‘ransom’ to the hackers. In doing so, the key was obtained to make systems accessible again. This was reported by well-informed sources at the UM. No official statements are being given.
Education programmes resume on 6 January, resits will also take place as planned

Education programmes resume on 6 January, resits will also take place as planned

MAASTRICHT. The consequences of the cyber-attack on Maastricht University have been solved to such a degree that education programmes can be resumed on 6 January 2020 as planned. The UM has stated this in a new update on its website. Resits that have been scheduled, will also take place in that week because a number of IT system...

UM wants to set up ‘help lines’ for students and staff

MAASTRICHT. Maastricht University buildings will open on Thursday 2 January, no matter what, so even if the consequences of the cyber-attack have not yet been solved by then. Furthermore, ‘help lines’ (on faculty, central and service centre level) will be set up for students and staff who have questions.

More than 250 concerned students and staff e-mail the UM

MAASTRICHT. About 250 employees and students have contacted the university after the cyber-attack on the night of 23 December, using the special e-mail address info@m-u.nl set up for this purpose. The primary questions for them include: Which systems have been affected? How long will all this take? What about my data? Are my exam res...
UM has been in contact with cybercriminals

UM has been in contact with cybercriminals

MAASTRICHT. During the night of 23-24 December, Maastricht University was hit by Clop ransomware. About twenty-five people are working every day in two shifts to determine the extent of the cyberattack. It’s unclear how long this will take, says Fons Elbersen, UM’s new temporary spokesperson.

Cyber-attack on Maastricht University

MAASTRICHT. On the night of 23 December, Maastricht University fell victim to a serious cyber-attack with the so-called Clop virus (ransomware). This made access to a lot of scientific data impossible. The e-mail system is down too, and the Student Portal and the library are offline. Exactly how this happened is now being investigate...
Student services bureau Jules bankrupt

Student services bureau Jules bankrupt

MAASTRICHT. The Maastricht court of law declared student services bureau Jules bankrupt on Tuesday 17 December. Jules, set up more than ten years ago by Karin van der Ven, a Maastricht University alumna, mainly supported foreign students with services such as language courses, a removal service, and help with questions about insurance and tax....
“There is a big gap in EU regulations for students like me”

“There is a big gap in EU regulations for students like me”

She is a little wary; mentioning her home country in the article makes her very uncomfortable. The same holds for her current city of residence “somewhere in the Euregio”, says Fazilet Caglayan (23), master’s student of Globalisation and Law. She draws a picture of the “human rights violations” she saw when the army in...

A different kind of friendship

A different kind of friendship

“I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was 12”, is one of the final sentences of the 1986 movie Stand by Me. Since moving to Maastricht more than 2 years ago, I often thought about this quote. We all know how fast life in Maastricht can be. You meet new people every period and barely see them again after the p...

Internationalisation: figures, pros and cons

Internationalisation: figures, pros and cons

THE NETHERLANDS. Dutch Education Minister Ingrid van Engelshoven wants to prevent an excessive influx of the number of international students. Today she defends her plans in the Dutch House of Representatives. Ahead of this debate, here are some facts and opinions to put things in perspective.
When world problems arrive at your doorstep

When world problems arrive at your doorstep

Climate marches, Brexit fuss, mass demonstrations in Hong Kong: all have been making headlines around the world in 2019. Observant spoke to two students and a PhD candidate who experienced the world news first-hand.
“We show great solidarity with our fence”

“We show great solidarity with our fence”

“We are very committed towards the EU, but we don't want immigrants. That is an issue that is non-negotiable,” says Hungarian ambassador András Kocsis in the Statenzaal of the Law faculty. Last Saturday, he engaged in a debate with former Dutch minister of Foreign Affairs Ben Bot on the rift between Eastern and Western Europe. Th...

“The only colourful thing in my wardrobe is my pyjamas”

“The only colourful thing in my wardrobe is my pyjamas”

Linda Paulssen (27, Dutch), third-year student of Dutch Law, describes her style as “black, modern and sharp”.
New Tefaf professor: Parisian cancer expert Laurence Zitvogel

New Tefaf professor: Parisian cancer expert Laurence Zitvogel

MAASTRICHT. The French cancer researcher Laurence Zitvogel is going to occupy the Tefaf endowed chair in 2019. In professional circles, she is well-known for her discovery that microorganisms in the intestines partly determine the effectiveness of cancer treatment. Occupancy of this chair changes every year and comes under research institute GROW. ...
Only the best of the best aubergines and onions are selected

Only the best of the best aubergines and onions are selected

Christmas is just around the corner. This time of year never fails to remind me of Dickens. It’s always December in his stories: freezing cold outside, a blazing hearth fire inside. This contrast is reflected by the contrast between outsiders suffering hardship and the comfort of a warm home. Dickens’s writing was inspired by his own ch...
“I wasn’t in a relationship and I didn’t feel the need to be”

“I wasn’t in a relationship and I didn’t feel the need to be”

She thought she might get a serious job in the legal profession – a lawyer working from the Amsterdam business district Zuidas, for example. “There was something romantic about the idea. Work hard, play hard, something like that. Work your tail off, but go skiing together, too. That sense of community appealed to me,” says Europea...
Everything is ok

Everything is ok

The first deadlines have come and gone. The first final examinations are silently knocking on my door, whispering, in the true UCM spirit, that everything will be ok. I look down at my phone. The train ticket back to the Netherlands, back to my other home, has already been downloaded on it for weeks. The e-mail from the Semester Abroad Office th...

Dutch to ban the sale of laughing gas for recreational use

THE NETHERLANDS. The Dutch government is planning to ban the sale of nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, for recreational use.  

Little change in poverty rate – nearly 8% of Dutch households are poor

THE NETHERLANDS. The number of low income households in the Netherlands remained unchanged up to the end of 2018 but may have gone down this year, the national statistics agency CBS said on Monday.
What should an influencer do and not do?

What should an influencer do and not do?

MAASTRICHT. Is a vlogger allowed to advertise a product in a video diary and not state that it is advertising? Is it all right for a YouTuber with a lot of underage followers to promote energy drinks? Influencers have become an established part of the online media landscape, but for legislators it is still a very new phenomenon. The Maastricht &lsq...

New offensive against PhD ‘student’ status

THE NETHERLANDS. PhD students at the University of Groningen have written a manifesto: they want to be employees rather than students and have started a petition.
Lassie might come home again

Lassie might come home again

Recently, I decided to accept a job offer from Erasmus University, which means that soon I will be leaving this institution. So, I want to take this opportunity to tell you a bit about some members of FPN family and help you see at least a glimpse of their awesomeness. 
UM should speak out against Zwarte Piet

UM should speak out against Zwarte Piet

Maastricht University, as an institution that prides itself on being international and inclusive, should speak out against the tradition of Zwarte Piet, say the Maastricht Students Against Zwarte Piet in this opinion article.
“I was in hospital and I thought: this is fun, too”

“I was in hospital and I thought: this is fun, too”

He always wrote long articles, filling entire pages with them. “You paid us per word, that’s why,” laughs Marc Bonten (1964), who worked as a student freelancer for Observant between 1987 and 1989. His writing was great, but his future wouldn’t be in journalism. He was studying medicine, but did he want to be a doctor? He wa...
“I like to shop in small local boutiques; they give personal advice and have original items”

“I like to shop in small local boutiques; they give personal advice and have original items”

Tereza Spustova (33, Czech), master's student of Arts and Heritage, describes her style as “elegant with not too many accessories, always experimenting with various colours, prints, materials and shapes”.
“Even if we don’t address each other formally, the PhD student-supervisor relationship is very hierarchical”

“Even if we don’t address each other formally, the PhD student-supervisor relationship is very hierarchical”

The majority of the fifty cases UM ombudsman Anna Soedira has been presented with since February 2019 concerned conflicts between employees and their bosses – PhD students and their supervisors in particular. Some of these are still under investigation, whereas others have been resolved. Some solutions left all parties satisfied, whereas othe...
Piglet research UM discontinued

Piglet research UM discontinued

MAASTRICHT. The forensic piglet research by a Maastricht PhD candidate in a pond in North Holland, will be discontinued. The Twiske-Waterland recreation organisation has decided to terminate the project because it doesn’t fit to their goals.

No hearings in English for now

MAASTRICHT. For the time being, Dutch will continue to be spoken during hearings held by the Complaints Committee for Inappropriate Behaviour at Maastricht University. Foreign members of staff who do not speak the language, will have to hire an interpreter themselves. As this concerns an ‘umbrella regulation’ in which three institutes &...
Studying in a dormitory

Studying in a dormitory

There's music coming from the radio, there are electric heaters in the corners, and there's scattered building material on the ground. The first phase of the renovations at Tapijn barracks, in which the carré-buildings on the Prins Bisschopsingel were given a complete makeover, is almost finished. Some eighty to a hundred construction worke...

Glühwein time

Glühwein time

The inner city lights up with bright red stars and large, white fairy lights. Groups of small children pass me in the morning, singing German Christmas carols from the top of their lungs. I spend the rest of my ride to uni continuing the songs under my breath, thinking back to the time when young-me stomped through the snow to school. Everyone i...

Student clubs ‘given 75% discounts’ to encourage heavy drinking

THE NETHERLANDS. Students’ associations are continuing to sign up to deals with breweries that reward heavy drinking by their members despite pledging to change the ‘alcohol culture’ at universities.