Back to list All Articles Archives Search RSS Terug naar lijst Alle artikelen Archieven Zoek RSS
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."
Liveblog: UM and the corona crisis

Liveblog: UM and the corona crisis

WED 14 OCT - Face masks compulsory at UM from Thursday 15 October onwards 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. - Face masks: from urgent advice to...

“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’”

MAASTRICHT. 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 Kha...
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.

Late delivery tops list of online shoppers’ complaints: CBS

THE NETHERLANDS. One in two people who have bought something online in the past year have complaints about the service, with late delivery topping the list of consumer bugbears, according to a new survey by national statistics agency CBS.
How low can you go?

How low can you go?

Although they may not be part of your daily conversations, interest rates affect your daily life. At a very basic level, your savings (if you have any…) accrue interest, your student loan bears interest, and your mortgage payments depend on current interest levels. That’s why you should know that interest rates have never been this ...

Complaining with only one objective: to harm

Complaining with only one objective: to harm

What can you do when someone is accused, through evil intention, of violating scientific integrity? How often does this happen? How can you recognise it? These questions arose last Monday during a symposium in Amsterdam. It also became apparent how much consternation and agitation the basra reed warbler has brought about.  
Complaining with only one objective: to harm

Complaining with only one objective: to harm

What can you do when someone is accused, through evil intention, of violating scientific integrity? How often does this happen? How can you recognise it? These questions arose last Monday during a symposium in the KNAW Trippenhuis. It also became apparent how much consternation and agitation the Iraqi sedge warbler has brought about.
Good NSE score does not necessarily mean a good Keuzegids score

Good NSE score does not necessarily mean a good Keuzegids score

MAASTRICHT. The UM is the most international university; European Law School - with almost 84 per cent foreign students - is the most international study programme. But when it comes to quality, Law School is dangling at the bottom in the Keuzegids Universiteiten 2020. The results of the National Student Survey (Nationale Studenten Enquête, NS...
“When I put on too much make-up, I look just like Barbie”

“When I put on too much make-up, I look just like Barbie”

Coco Smit (20, Dutch), third-year student of Biomedical Sciences, describes her style as “sporty and colourful”.

University Council student members saddled with extra work

MAASTRICHT. Student members of the University Council often have to do an extra study assignment, because they miss out on part of the education programme due to their council or committee duties. During a University Council meeting last Wednesday, they asked rector Rianne Letschert whether a solution could be found for this. The rector promised to...
“I have to get reacquainted with Dutch culture”

“I have to get reacquainted with Dutch culture”

Marie Zwetsloot (30) has only just returned to the Netherlands. She spent seven years in the US as a Fulbright and Huygens scholar, obtaining a research master’s degree in soil science and writing her PhD thesis on the influence of roots on belowground carbon in the context of climate change. None of this is what she planned to do when she ca...

Defence minister ‘probably’ told Mark Rutte about Iraq bombing casualities

THE NETHERLANDS. Former defence minister Jeanine Hennis did verbally inform then-foreign minister Bert Koenders in 2015 about possible civilian casualties due to a Dutch bombing raid in Iraq and ‘probably’ told prime minister Mark Rutte, current defence minister Ank Bijleveld has told MPs.
“Is this a protest?”

“Is this a protest?”

It’s a cold, dark Tuesday night. A group of six theatre geeks wrap up their conversation in front of the bar in which they’ve been talking about their upcoming production, gender and hierarchy in theatre, and the future in general. Time flew by inside, but by now everyone just wants to get home and wrap themselves up in a fluffy blanket...

FMO accused of funding human rights abuses on palm oil plantations

THE NETHERLANDS. Dutch development bank FMO is one of four European lenders accused of financing human rights abuses in the palm oil sector in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Headsets and pockets

Headsets and pockets

A few weeks ago I took part in a panel discussion for which I had to use a headset microphone, with a heavy transmitter. I had not considered this when getting dressed that morning so was yet again faced with an object designed for a default male user, or at least someone wearing a jacket or trousers with sturdy pockets. A silk dress is not suitabl...

Europahave office building to become student housing too

Europahave office building to become student housing too

MAASTRICHT. The Maastricht City Council expects that by next year there will be sufficient accommodation for students. On top of the annual maximum of 120 rooms or studios in the private sector, there will be another 252 prefabricated apartments in Randwyck, as well as - recently announced - 127 flats in the former office building Europahave in Hee...

UM wants to pay more attention to the home front

MAASTRICHT. Maastricht University is the first in the Netherlands to have obtained a ‘family-friendly university’ certificate. The UM wants to take the home situation of its employees and students more into account.

UM budget: uncertain future because of Van Rijn committee

MAASTRICHT. Maastricht University will end up in the red in 2020, but there is no need to panic. The six million shortage - coming from the reserves - is meant for investments already planned for new bachelor’s and master’s programmes, IT upgrades and housing.
"I would like to have a mini-afro again but it is not practical at the moment"

"I would like to have a mini-afro again but it is not practical at the moment"

Anass Mephtah (21, Dutch), third-year student of Biomedical Sciences and first-year student of Psychology, describes his style as “sometimes all in black, sometimes urban, sometimes neat, but always completely myself”
The best vegetarian cuisine in the world

The best vegetarian cuisine in the world

Three weeks ago, I reviewed some delicious kebab; today, it’s time to take a little break from eating meat. This is more difficult than you might expect, as there aren’t any vegetarian-only restaurants in Maastricht. Fortunately, there are plenty of eateries that offer a good range of vegetarian options in addition to carnivore-friendly...
IB alumnus Maarten Scholts: “I excelled at doing nothing”

IB alumnus Maarten Scholts: “I excelled at doing nothing”

His 2003 interview revolved around one thing and one thing only: cars. He wanted to become CEO of Ferrari and would personally save the brand from a takeover by Mercedes or Volkswagen. His house would also have to be big enough to accommodate his fleet of vehicles, which was to consist of five shiny red Italian sports cars for Sunday afternoon driv...

Salary survey shows women do earn less than men, even for equal work

THE NETHERLANDS. Working part time does increase the wage gap between men and women, costing women both money and promotion, according to annual research by Intermediair magazine and Nyenrode University.
“Here I stand, I can do no other!”

“Here I stand, I can do no other!”

“Hier stehe ich, ich kann nicht anders.” It’s the infamous quote by Martin Luther, allegedly said with pride and triumph in 1521. Here, in the university library of Freiburg, these words gain a whole other meaning. You might have already heard of the Freiburger ‘UB’ (as it is also called over here, short for ‘...

Academic career: teaching and impact to carry more weight

MAASTRICHT/THE NETHERLANDS. For a career in science you will no longer need to solely focus yourself on research. Knowledge institutes and science funders feel that being a good teacher and doing useful research are also very important.

Numbers of students with mental health problems not on the rise

Anyone who reads a newspaper almost always come to the same conclusion: life is tough for students. They have to deal with stress, anxiety disorders and symptoms of burn-out. And with the increased pressure to achieve and the abolition of the basic student grant, things are only getting worse. But are these psychological problems among students ...

No more sponsored medical students from the Middle East

MAASTRICHT. The special grant programmes for students from the Middle East who come to study Medicine in Maastricht, have been discontinued. The Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences (FHML) has pulled the plug: too much hassle with the governments that provide the grants and subsequently want to set all kinds of requirements for the program...
OMG, am I a Boomer?!

OMG, am I a Boomer?!

For some time now, I’ve been feeling out of touch with my students. When I make pop culture references from a TV show during class (a sin I commit often), confused and befuddled faces usually stare back at me. So I double down and proceed to explain the reference. The students either dodge my eye contact sympathetically or tell me that their ...

“The wrong shoes can ruin your outfit”

“The wrong shoes can ruin your outfit”

Leroy Kabangu (Heerlen, 26), third-year student of Law, describes his style as casual with a twist.
Two new UM study programmes touch a sore spot for UoTs

Two new UM study programmes touch a sore spot for UoTs

MAASTRICHT. The Eindhoven, Delft,Twente and Wageningen Universities of Technology (UoT) have protested against the new Maastricht bachelor's programme of Circular Engineering and the master's programme of Molecular Imaging and Engineering. The minister has nevertheless approved the study programmes. They will start in 20...
“Please, call me Rianne, after all it is after eight”

“Please, call me Rianne, after all it is after eight”

“I have so much respect for that woman,” a student says to her friends in the corridor of the Ipanema hall of the Bonnefanten museum. She is talking about Rianne Letschert, rector of Maastricht University. Letschert was the guest at the Maastricht version of the well-known TV programme College Tour last Thursday. Where normally the pres...

Kaleido gets permanent home at Tapijn

Kaleido gets permanent home at Tapijn

MAASTRICHT. At last, student club Kaleido has found a permanent location: Tapijn, building Z. It’s the current residence of Data Science and Knowledge Engineering (DKE). The latter will soon move to the Paul Henri Spaaklaan in Randwyck.
“It’s up to the journalist to peer through the smoke screen”

“It’s up to the journalist to peer through the smoke screen”

Interest rate derivatives, share buy-back programmes, government bonds, deposit banks. Dear reader, are you still there? Investigative journalist Thomas Bollen (1984) lives for these kinds of financial-economic concepts – the more obscure the better. He meticulously dissects them, leaving no stone unturned. “The Netherlands is a wonderf...
Madrid, Paris, Afghanistan, Uganda, and now Mexico

Madrid, Paris, Afghanistan, Uganda, and now Mexico

Living a grand and exciting life, writing, and exploring the world. Those were the dreams alumna Judith Maas had for her future back when she was a student. They both did and didn’t come true. Her career as a diplomat – she’s currently deputy ambassador in Mexico – took her to many continents, but she didn’t end up fol...
“The police always threaten to arrest me, but they never do”

“The police always threaten to arrest me, but they never do”

Cambodian human rights activist Lim Kimsor (31) and her family were forced by their government to leave their house in the city of Phnom Penh in July 2009. The government gave several reasons: city beautification, construction of a drainage system, laying streets. It turned out that the land had been sold to private companies. Since 2011, Kimsor ha...
German Unpunctuality

German Unpunctuality

Secret agent Jesler vH, ID 6152144, reporting for duty. Strange behaviour has been observed over here in Freiburg: all classes start exactly fifteen minutes late. Everyone seems to willingly go along with this delay - even the most punctual among the Germans. Several different inside sources have informed me that this is referred to as ‘Akade...

Brexit: British students warned to tread carefully with illegal room rental

THE NETHERLANDS. British citizens studying in the Netherlands should be sure they are registered in their local municipality if and when the United Kingdom actually leaves the European Union. Failure to do so could mean being faced with all kinds of problems.

Zwarte Piet protest group accuses police of failing to protect safety

THE NETHERLANDS. Protest group Kick Out Zwarte Piet (KOZP) has accused police of failing to protect its members’ safety after a weekend in which four people were arrested for violently breaking up a meeting.
Bring back the European Amazon

Bring back the European Amazon

Did you know that Europe was once covered in rainforests? Towering trees, a thousand years old, wide as an elephant and over 70m tall, dotted the landscape. They were connected, able to share information and nutrients with their large and small neighbours through fungal networks. They competed, collaborated, and used sophisticated chemicals to warn...

Voting for a lying politician is like “buying a gun”

Voting for a lying politician is like “buying a gun”

Why do people vote for a leader who does not even try to look credible? It is the main question that philosopher and historian Bettina Stangneth raised in the Tans lecture ‘Celebration of Lying’, organised by Studium Generale.
Complaint foreign PhD candidate, hearing in Dutch

Complaint foreign PhD candidate, hearing in Dutch

MAASTRICHT. A foreign PhD candidate who submitted a complaint about her supervisor to Maastricht University's ‘Complaints committee for Inappropriate Behaviour’, is invited for a hearing in Dutch. This to her amazement, a language she barely understands, let alone be able to express herself in adequately. An interpreter is permitted...
“I see things within the UM that worry me”

“I see things within the UM that worry me”

How can we tackle the problem of a heavy workload? How can we ensure a safe working environment? Eighteen groups of employees (approximately 180 people) pondered these questions the last few weeks. Solutions will be presented in spring.
Underwater piglet experiment creates a fuss

Underwater piglet experiment creates a fuss

MAASTRICHT. Dutch YouTuber Emile Beuker recently posted a short film on his video channel Finding stuff. It showed piglets that he had discovered during a dive in the Stootersplas in North Holland. Dead piglets in cages under water. What appeared to be the case? Forensic research is being carried out by Maastricht Universit...
“I wear lots of my mother's and father's clothes from the time when they were in their teens and twenties”

“I wear lots of my mother's and father's clothes from the time when they were in their teens and twenties”

Anna Rakas (18), first-year student of European Public Health, describes her style as "masculine with feminine details"
 “Studying kind of felt like a necessary evil to me”

“Studying kind of felt like a necessary evil to me”

“Are you happy with the way you look? Well, I’d rather be 10cm taller and/or 5 kilos lighter, but I wouldn’t necessarily say I think I’m hideous… Do you want children? ‘That’s just about the last thing I want to think about’ isn’t included as an option on this dating site. Do you smoke? S...
Sleeping under the stars

Sleeping under the stars

Sleeping under the stars - singing around a campfire - learning to juggle by a cold lake It seems like a shot from a movie. One of those movies where people just eat one bite of their croissant and then leave the beautifully laid breakfast table. Where the protagonists don't turn off the light when they leave their house. Where everyone seem...

Work-to-rule action: “Thanks for your email, but it will have to wait”

THE NETHERLANDS. In November, activist scientists will be sending automated replies to emails they receive stating they are too busy to send quick replies.

Primary teachers’ strike on November 6 to go ahead after unions change tack

THE NETHERLANDS. A strike by primary school teachers on November 6 appears to be back on after unions reversed their decision to call it off.
“I take myself more serious in high heels”

“I take myself more serious in high heels”

Mathilde Kennis (26), PhD candidate at Cognitive Neurosciences, describes her style as “not subject to trends, sustainable and distinctly female”.
The Middle Seat

The Middle Seat

The middle seat, be it on an airplane or in a car, is probably your worst option. It’s crowded, uncomfortable and you just feel stuck. As the second of three kids, I know what ‘the middle’ feels like and found that seat to bear more freedom than you'd think.   With an older sister who pushed parental boundaries and a y...

No press release about migrant research because of Wilders and Baudet?

No press release about migrant research because of Wilders and Baudet?

Does the department of Marketing and Communication take political considerations into account when they choose whether or not to issue a press release? A study about migrants was not widely publicised at the beginning of this year, because populists might catch on and abuse it. No, that was not the reason, says the spokesmen.
Conflict between University Council and Executive Board

Conflict between University Council and Executive Board

MAASTRICHT. A conflict has arisen between the University Council and the Executive Board. The controversial issue is the new procedure for the appointment of deans, which states that from now on, the entire Executive Board will sit on the Appointments Advisory Committee for the appointment of deans. Until now, only the rector was a member of t...

From speaking about race to networking for women

MAASRICHT. An empowerment workshop for people of colour, female academics who learn to present themselves and their research better, and an app that students can use to report sexual violence. These are a few examples of what has been done with the UM Diversity and Inclusivity (D&I) Grants. The project leaders presented their results at a meeti...
Hardly complaints to confidential advisor

Hardly complaints to confidential advisor

MAASTRICHT. In particular foreigners submitted complaints to the confidential adviser for students in 2018. Most of the complaints concerned discrimination and sexual intimidation. A total of 46 students contacted the adviser.
Alumna Inge van Kan: “He’d sown his wild oats and was ready to settle”

Alumna Inge van Kan: “He’d sown his wild oats and was ready to settle”

Château Neercanne, 5 September 2015. “Max, maybe you think you were the one who came up with the idea of buying that house the two of you bought in Sint Pieter last month. But it couldn’t be less true. You’ve been manipulated. You were set up.” Inge’s wedding witness produces a yellowed copy of Observant from...
Doner, my favourite street food

Doner, my favourite street food

​I’m on the road a lot, which doesn’t really square with healthy eating habits. Fast food at train stations is often not very good for you, but I always tell myself there is one snack that’s a complete and relatively healthy meal: doner kebab with a cup of ayran. The former consists of raw vegetables, grilled meat with the fat mel...
“Just 30 cents - she didn’t do that much, after all”

“Just 30 cents - she didn’t do that much, after all”

“Germany and The Netherlands are basically the same.” Secretly, I used to think that too. Oh, how wrong I was. Just one example: the legendary German Trinkgeld. Whenever I ask a German about the tipping culture over here, I always get the same answer: “It’s not as bad as in the US.” By now, I think they’re ...

Ministers aim to relax PFAS pollution rules after new limit halts earth-moving work

THE NETHERLANDS. Ministers have asked public health institute RIVM to look into relaxing the limits on how much of the chemical compound PFAS should be allowed in sludge and soil which is dumped on farm and landfill sites during dredging and earth-moving work.  

Poker players and businessmen – the biggest political party donors

THE NETHERLANDS. The biggest individual donation to a political party last year was €166,000 left to the left-wing green party GroenLinks in the will of psychotherapist Joop Valstar, current affairs show Nieuwsuur said, on the basis of an analysis of party annual accounts.
Science Programme tuition fees to rise substantially

Science Programme tuition fees to rise substantially

MAASTRICHT. The tuition fee for the Maastricht Science Programme (MSP) is going to increase considerably. From the next academic year, it will go from 2,143 euro (the statutory amount) to 3,545 euro per year.
The End of History

The End of History

The other day I looked down at my phone and discovered bite marks in its case. Not from a dog – from my baby. Why, you ask? Because I have become a mother who lets her baby bite her phone if it makes him happy. This is just one example of something I’ve found myself doing that I swore I would never do when I became a parent. I also swor...

Positive response to digital exams, despite teething problems

Positive response to digital exams, despite teething problems

MAASTRICHT. A loud “YESSS!!!!” sounds at the main entrance of the MECC on Tuesday morning. Second-year students of International Business Thom Metselaar and Tim Schmid have passed their computer exam ‘Management of Organizations’. They have just pressed Enter for the last time, but the answers are already online.
Yes, 100 per cent open access is possible

Yes, 100 per cent open access is possible

Open access publishing has skyrocketed over the past few years. Large publishers have come around and the accessible journals are on the rise. But how is the UM doing? How many Maastricht publications are available to everyone? Do young researchers do it too or just those who have already made it? It's Open Access Week again, organised by the U...
Associate Professors can also be promotors

Associate Professors can also be promotors

MAASTRICHT. From January 2020, all Maastricht Associate Professors who have obtained a doctorate degree will receive the ius promovendi: the right to act as a PhD thesis supervisor. Until this year, this was restricted to professors or, in exceptional case, those who had obtained a PhD and had permission from the Board of Deans.
Study Saturday: weekend studying at the faculty during the exam period

Study Saturday: weekend studying at the faculty during the exam period

MAASTRICHT. Is the university library full and your room not really a great place to study? Student representatives of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences organised another ‘Study Saturday’ in the building on the Grote Gracht 76 last Saturday. All classrooms and the regular study spaces were available. Café Banditos was open to...

Not the rector, but the entire Appointments Advisory Committee selects dean application letters

MAASTRICHT. It is no longer the rector who will carry out the initial selection of job application letters for the appointment of deans. Such letters will again be submitted to the Appointments Advisory Committee as a whole.
“If people think I look a bit weird, I’m totally fine with that”

“If people think I look a bit weird, I’m totally fine with that”

Emma van Tuyll (20), third-year student of International Medicine Track, describes her style as “I have no clue really, I guess ‘alternative’ would cover it”
“I had to be in enough pain to start doing things differently”

“I had to be in enough pain to start doing things differently”

Life has calmed down for her. Working as a programme manager at a coaching business, being with Onno (“I met him at the pub on my 31st birthday”): the past years have been the happiest of Jorien Knevel’s life. Getting there wasn’t smooth sailing, though. She enjoyed studying and working well enough, but she lacked a sen...
Confusion is great

Confusion is great

“Moments of confusion - great!” This is how the academic director of University College Freiburg (UCF) welcomed all first-year and exchange students during the official welcome week. And I, the good student that I am, am already following this like a mantra. It all started by needing 30 minutes for what is supposed to be a 15-minute ...

Street wardens to get pepper spray and batons to defend themselves

THE NETHERLANDS. The justice minister plans to allow street wardens – civil servants who carry out a variety of duties for local authorities – to have weapons such as pepper spray and batons, the Volkskrant said on Monday.
UM Sports should be more diverse

UM Sports should be more diverse

​MAASTRICHT. In the areas of diversity and inclusivity – two of Maastricht University's focal areas – some work is still needed at the university sports centre in Maastricht. Especially diversity requires attention, according to the outcome of the first phase of the UM study ‘UM Sports for Every Body’.
Saurus again the fastest grower

Saurus again the fastest grower

MAASTRICHT. For three years in a row, Saurus has been the fastest growing of the four large Maastricht student associations. They have registered 175 new members this year, 59 of whom are international students. Enthusiasm for Circumflex has seen a lift and Tragos has also seen a slight increase. Koko is the only one experiencing a decline.

FPN forced to make cuts of 3.1 million over 5 years

MAASTRICHT. The Faculty of Psychology and Neurosciences needs to cut costs to the amount of 3.1 million over the next five years. Jobs are not at risk; the faculty will take a critical look at all other expenses. Some of that money (about 1 million) will become available automatically: over the next few years, some older (and hence more expensive) ...
Creating opportunities

Creating opportunities

You must be thinking “that’s not possible”, as a student you cannot create opportunities in academia. But let me tell you how you (yes you, not your supervisor) can integrate several opportunities into your education. Looking back, I remember what it was like to be a girl scout. The camps’ main focus was instilling in us ...

Substantial increase of first-years

Substantial increase of first-years

MAASTRICHT. Maastricht University registered almost 9 per cent more first-year students than last year: 8,177 students. In particular the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences has seen a lift because of its new bachelor's programme of Digital Society.
“Fine, I’ll be the token woman from time to time”

“Fine, I’ll be the token woman from time to time”

A charming rector’, ‘the embodiment of UM’, ‘ambitious’, ‘authentic’: Dutch media outlets were very generous with their praise in recent articles about ‘Top Woman of the Year 2019’ and current rector of Maastricht University Rianne Letschert. Her own reaction to winning the annual competition fo...
Hardware stolen from UNS 60

Hardware stolen from UNS 60

MAASTRICHT. During a burglary, last week, in two of the Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences' offices on the Universiteitssingel 60, hardware from eight computers (processors, RAM, and hard disks) were taken. The crime was reported to the police. According to Ineke Wolfhagen, assistant director of the education institute, no privacy-se...
“Let yourself get involved in their lives, rather than engaging them in your research”

“Let yourself get involved in their lives, rather than engaging them in your research”

MAASTRICHT. Helping researchers who want to do community-engaged research and showcase what is already happening at Maastricht University. That is the aim of the Maastricht Platform for Community-Engaged Research (MPCER). During the launch event at Lumière last Thursday, the pitfalls and challenges of this kind of research were discussed.
“As it turned out, I liked neither reading nor writing”

“As it turned out, I liked neither reading nor writing”

The Bonnefanten Convent was the domain of the Sisters of the Holy Sepulchre until 1789 and of the Bonnefanten Museum from 1952 to 1979. Maastricht University has owned it for almost forty years now. There’s a bookcase in the attic; the top shelf holds books entitled I can do it and I’ll get through this. The shelves below...

Piecemeal firework bans will not solve New Year problems, police chief says

THE NETHERLANDS. Dutch national police chief Erik Akerboom has written to MPs warning of major problems with the introduction of local New Year firework bans – as several cities are bringing in.
“I just add colour without care”

“I just add colour without care”

Paulina Casas (21), first-year UCM student, describes her style as “very girly and colourful”.
Old Town Road to Freiburg

Old Town Road to Freiburg

I’m gonna take my horse to the old town road, I’m gonna ride ‘til I can’t no more. Well, instead of a horse, I had a big car that was so fully-packed that I had to create a small cave for myself to sit in, surrounded by all the stuff that I now doubt whether I'll ever need. And instead of an old town road, I got to cr...

Climate activists arrested for blocking road near Rijkmuseum in Amsterdam

THE NETHERLANDS. Police have begun removing environmental protesters from outside the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam after they ignored warnings not to block the road.
The Greek vegetarian paradox

The Greek vegetarian paradox

I love meat, but it’s obvious that I will have to reduce my meat consumption. Given the excessive amount of nitrogen produced in the Netherlands, we have to decide whether to build less or to reduce the amount of livestock. Since the number of households is expected to increase by almost one million in the next three decades, and we don&rsquo...

The art of caring

The art of caring

Nowadays, it seems like we have to do so many things. We need to have a healthy lifestyle, good grades, enough internships, perfect skin, tons of friends, go out regularly, visit at least a few dozen countries, update our Instagram stories, read enough books and so on and so on… Time never stops and we feel like not a single minute should...

Waiting times for student psychologists have risen drastically

Waiting times for student psychologists have risen drastically

MAASTRICHT. ‘Waiting times for student psychologists have dropped drastically,’ Observant reported two weeks ago. One of the reasons was the introduction of groups sessions, focussing on prevention. But now it appears that waiting times have suddenly risen again substantially.

Research master's of Health Sciences to stop in 2020

MAASTRICHT. The Health Sciences Research Master (HSRM) will be discontinued with effect from September 2020. The University Council approved the request for discontinuance last week. The master's didn't attract enough students to be cost-effective. The current students will be able to complete the two-year programme.
New University Council chairperson left a visiting card

New University Council chairperson left a visiting card

MAASTRICHT. The first plenary session of the new University Council and its newly appointed chairperson, Amanda Kluveld, immediately caused fireworks. At the request of the Council, she put the new procedure for the appointing of deans as an additional item on the agenda. The Executive Board wanted to prevent this, but Kluveld stuck to her gun...
“You are a picture that you can draw anew every day”

“You are a picture that you can draw anew every day”

Merlijn van Emmerik (20), third-year student of the Maastricht Science Programme, describes her style as: “diverse, often rather masculine, but then as compensation a very female detail.”

Putting the brakes on English in higher education

THE NETHERLANDS. Minister of Education Ingrid van Engelshoven has announced plans to introduce more stringent language policies for Dutch higher education. This could mean that a number of programmes currently being taught in English will have to switch back to Dutch. But how likely is that to actually happen?

Observant's 40th anniversary

Because of its 40th anniversary, Observant asked the Maastricht animators Janneke Swinkels and Tim Frijsinger to make a video about the newspaper. The music was especially composed for the video by Tim Coenen.  

Successful Career Woman Rianne Letschert: maybe female professor quota in 2020

Successful Career Woman Rianne Letschert: maybe female professor quota in 2020

MAASTRICHT. Long articles in newspapers such as Het Financieele Dagblad, de Limburger, Eindhovens Dagblad, an appearance on the TV show Jinek and numerous reports in other media. Only those who were completely shut off from the world could have missed it this week: rector Rianne Letschert won the Successful Career Woman of ...
Death by Lady Bureaucracy

Death by Lady Bureaucracy

I’ve never been a fan of Kafka’s work. It always seemed too dark, too negative and too whiney. Now, I won’t claim that I’ve grown to like Kafka - I have not and will not attempt to reread his stories any time soon. But I have grown to understand one of his muses - the suffocating Lady Bureaucracy. I had the unlucky privil...

Traffic chaos as farmers drive their tractors to The Hague protest

THE NETHERLANDS. There were record traffic jams on the Dutch roads on Tuesday as thousands of farmers headed for The Hague to take part in a mass demonstration, hundreds of whom are travelling by tractor.
New in Maastricht: spikeball

New in Maastricht: spikeball

MAASTRICHT. What started as a Christmas gift has grown into the latest student sports club in Maastricht: spikeball club Cactus Maastricht.

Executive Board reinforces its grip on dean appointments

MAASTRICHT. The Executive Board will get a much bigger hand in the appointment of new deans. All three members will from now be part of the Appointments Advisory Committee. This is one of the aspects of the new procedure for the (re)appointment of deans, recently decided upon by the Executive Board.

Of course foreign students should learn Dutch, says OECD

THE NETHERLANDS. Great education is more than the right combination of quality and equity, say two researchers from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Language and culture also matter.
“It is more important that clothes fit well than whether they are a brand”

“It is more important that clothes fit well than whether they are a brand”

Bjorn Berben (22), fourth-year student of Health Sciences, describes his style as “edgy, but basic”.
Cynic’s Love

Cynic’s Love

I never believed in the idea of love presented in movies, songs, and by strangers around me. The idea of “perfect” love is all about exaggerating good parts, minimalizing or even being blind to the bad qualities your loved ones have, and demanding they return the favour. Although ego soothing, that kind of love is deceiving and, simply ...

Municipality has no idea how many students have or have not registered

Municipality has no idea how many students have or have not registered

MAASTRICHT. It is unclear how much income the city of Maastricht loses out on every year because students fail to register as residents. Municipalities receive a sum of money from central government from the Municipality Fund, based on various criteria, such as the number of inhabitants. The city council actually has no idea how many students ...
Mindfulness: Not a Swiss Army knife

Mindfulness: Not a Swiss Army knife

Mindfulness – if you look it up on Google, you will get 103 million hits. More than 60 thousand non-specialist books have been written on the subject. But what do we really know about it? What effects have actually been proven, what role can mindfulness play on the work floor and what are the pitfalls? These are the questions touched upon by ...
King's Day in Maastricht

King's Day in Maastricht

MAASTRICHT. No European Song Contest in Maastricht next year - that will be celebrated in Rotterdam – but we will have the celebrations for King Willem-Alexander’s birthday together with his family. On King’s day, 27 April 2020, the city will be awash with orange. “It is an absolute honour that the King will come to our city...

“I was terrified, but I had to get out of the jungle. There was no time to feel fear”

“I was terrified, but I had to get out of the jungle. There was no time to feel fear”

In July 2017, on her first trip as a war correspondent, she was shot at. Lisa Dupuy (28), a University College Maastricht graduate, fell into an ambush in the jungle of eastern Congo. “We were in the middle of the Okapi Wildlife Reserve when we were attacked by a gang of criminals. They were looking for gold and didn’t want any prying e...
Rain songs and orgasms

Rain songs and orgasms

Arabian sounds come from the living room of the student pastoral care centre The InnBetween. The place is lit by candles. Some fifty visitors are sitting on the floor with a cup of tea near the stage or on one of the folding chairs, listening to the Palestinian Bint Mbareh. For het master’s thesis, she researched traditional Palestinian rain ...

British nationals in NL dismayed by dual nationality change of plan

THE NETHERLANDS. British nationals in the Netherlands have reacted with dismay to the decision to drop them from draft legislation allowing people caught up in the Brexit chaos to have both Dutch and British nationality.
The student loan system stays – but more money to tackle teacher shortage

The student loan system stays – but more money to tackle teacher shortage

NETHERLANDS. Prime Minister Mark Rutte was clear: the government was not going to start tampering with the student loan system. There might, however, be some money left over to tackle the teacher shortage.
Goodbye lah, you Crazy, Rich, Asian Metropole

Goodbye lah, you Crazy, Rich, Asian Metropole

A long, ocean-blue canal in the middle of a gold-plated shopping centre. Hop on a gondola and enjoy your journey past Dior, Chanel, Prada and anything else your heart desires. Though you don't need to enter to know what is being sold: posters at least ten meters high already show you what it means to be in vogue in Winter 2019. After your da...

More exercise could lead to poor achievement at school

More exercise could lead to poor achievement at school

MAASTRICHT. Encouraging children at primary school to exercise more could result in poorer school performance. The cause of this is probably an increase of restlessness in the classroom. This is one of the outcomes of a study carried out by Maastricht University and Fontys Hogescholen.
Extra cutbacks: “damaging” and “an obstruction”

Extra cutbacks: “damaging” and “an obstruction”

MAASTRICHT/NETHERLANDS. On the day of the King’s speech, last Tuesday, the cabinet presented its budget for next year. Higher education is in for a bad time, with another round of cutbacks. This is on top of the disastrous plans recommended by the Van Rijn committee, which wants money to be transferred from general universities to techni...
It’s getting hot in here

It’s getting hot in here

With the current weather, it’s hard to believe that temperatures in Maastricht rose to an unprecedented 41 degrees in July. Perhaps the fact that temperatures were high during the summer break is for the better. At least for the performance of students, researchers, and Maastricht University staff. That is what you would think right: hot weat...

Group sessions reduce waiting time for student psychologist

Group sessions reduce waiting time for student psychologist

MAASTRICHT. Waiting times for an appointment with a student psychologist have been reduced considerably compared to this time last year. Students then had to wait three weeks, which is now three working days. Mieke Janssen, team leader for the UM psychologists and student psychologist Liesbeth Mouha reported this last week during a University Counc...
Extra cutbacks: “damaging” and “an obstruction”

Extra cutbacks: “damaging” and “an obstruction”

THE NETHERLANDS/MAASTRICHT. On the day of the King’s speech, last Tuesday, the cabinet presented its budget for next year. Higher education is in for a bad time, with another round of cutbacks. This is on top of the disastrous plans recommended by the Van Rijn committee, which wants money to be transferred from general universities to technic...
“I find jokes about the war hard to take”

“I find jokes about the war hard to take”

It was 75 year ago when Limburg was liberated. On 13 September 1944, the American army entered Maastricht, a thing that was celebrated elaborately last weekend, with among others a Ticker Tape Parade to honour the liberators. Does the liberation still interest students? Do they think it is important to commemorate and celebrate or is it just an eve...
Love Letter to UCM’s Curriculum Planners

Love Letter to UCM’s Curriculum Planners

My dearest UCM Curriculum Planners, Forgive me, for I have wronged you. For two years, I have failed to acknowledge your love for my academic career and your insufferable effort to allow me to take the courses I desire. At times, I have even cursed you, screaming ‘Why UCM? Why have you given me two 8:30’s - one of which on a Monda...

Former Health student Marjolijne van der Stoep: “How can you promise to love someone forever?”

Former Health student Marjolijne van der Stoep: “How can you promise to love someone forever?”

Having children was not in the cards for her. According to then 23-year-old Marjolijne van der Stoep, now almost forty, people should spend a little more time thinking before deciding to have children. Not everyone, she said, is fit to be a parent – herself included. She thought she’d be a terrible mother, a pushover with no a...
 “I wear my pink trousers when I want to be noticed and express: here I am”

“I wear my pink trousers when I want to be noticed and express: here I am”

Anouk Moll (25), almost graduated from University College Maastricht, co-owner of software company FemIP and influencing and marketing platform Binfluence, describes her style as: "business-like, practical and no-nonsense"
Prefab student accommodation in Randwyck

Prefab student accommodation in Randwyck

MAASTRICHT. Over the next two years, 126 student homes will be built in Randwyck. Not discarded sea containers, but brand-new double apartments. About half of these will have to be completed on the grounds of the former sports hall by August. The rest will follow the year after that.

Few homes for international students

THE NETHERLANDS. With an estimated shortfall in the Netherlands of 31,000 rooms, many students still don’t know where they’re sleeping this semester. Deborah Nicholls-Lee reports on why international students are among the worst affected by the student housing crisis.
Beach Clean-Up: Once upon a time?

Beach Clean-Up: Once upon a time?

They hatched! A hundred hawksbill turtles hatched and crawled their way into the sea at Sentosa’s Tanjong Beach one week ago! I’d like to think that I contributed the most modest of shares to this miracle - after all, once upon a time I joined a beach clean-up only 25 kilometers further along the beach (which in Singaporean terms is ...

Budget leaks: Dutch economy is robust but growth is leveling off

THE NETHERLANDS. Everyone in the Netherlands will be better off next year, and the coalition government expects 2020 will be the seventh in a row in which the economy grows, according to leaked budget documents published by RTL Nieuws at the weekend.

Why isn't anyone talking about the profits generated by foreign students?

THE NETHERLANDS. Amid the wide range of concerns raised about the huge influx of foreign students, one thing can be said for certain: they are a source of public revenue. Shouldn't this knowledge help put the worries to rest?

Foreign students permitted to stay longer in the United Kingdom

UNITED KINGDOM. With Brexit fast approaching, prime minister Boris Johnson is showing a willingness to accommodate international students. As far as the PM is concerned, students may stay in the United Kingdom for up to two years after graduation, allowing them the opportunity to find a job.  
Former student of Law Hans Wassink: “I had a great time, but I ended up losing myself”

Former student of Law Hans Wassink: “I had a great time, but I ended up losing myself”

“I owe my current life to the interview in Observant!” Hans Wassink (37) still has a tendency to exaggerate things. Of all the alumni we interviewed about their dreams for the future, the then 22-year-old fourth-year student of Dutch Law was by far the most outspoken one. His dream for the future was to become a decadent prick. He ...
Obsessive Numerology Disorder

Obsessive Numerology Disorder

Obsessive Numerology Disorder (OND) is spreading through university management. OND is the magic thinking that maintains a mystical connection between a number and some real world event. I suggest we add this to the ever-growing list of disorders included in the authoritative Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). The DSM, now...

Maastricht 127th in top 200

Maastricht 127th in top 200

MAASTRICHT. Maastricht University has risen one place in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2020 and is now at number 127, in front of Nijmegen, Amsterdam (VU), and Eindhoven. There are a total of eleven Dutch universities in the top 200 of best universities worldwide. The highest-ranking Dutch university is Wagenin...
“A lot has to do with common sense”

“A lot has to do with common sense”

Being able to work on something important for a period of ten years. That certainty is the true gift of the gravitation subsidy (almost 20 million) that she and her consortium received, says professor Anita Jansen. “You need that as a researcher.” As a dean, she tried to improve working conditions for her staff. By allocating teaching t...
Students for Climate take action against Maastricht Airport expansion

Students for Climate take action against Maastricht Airport expansion

MAASTRICHT. The Maastricht student organisation Students for Climate will make every effort to prevent an expansion of Maastricht Aachen Airport (MAA).
 “I’m fond of unisex silhouettes, I like it straight”

“I’m fond of unisex silhouettes, I like it straight”

Elizaveta Kislova (18), second-year European Law School student from Russia, describes her style as: “Urban style with ease”
Kaleido looking for accommodation again

Kaleido looking for accommodation again

MAASTRICHT. International student club Kaleido won't be moving to Kleine Gracht 41 after all. Before the summer, there were rumours that this would be their new ‘living room’ from which a “community could be built”. That is what Thomas Schäfer, project leader for Maastricht University said back then. Now it appears that ...

Green light for new animal-testing centre

Green light for new animal-testing centre

MAASTRICHT. Maastricht University has been given the green light for the new animal-testing centre. No objections have been lodged against the permit application, said the spokesperson for the Maastricht city council in response to questions. Apart from that, there is a letter from Animal Rights to the Executive Board with the request to stop anima...
Eclectic eating at Dadawan

Eclectic eating at Dadawan

In Maastricht, students are prepared to wait in long lines for three things: the international student helpdesk at the Student Service Centre, the office of Swapfiets in the first week of the academic year, and restaurant Dadawan. The queues in front of Dadawan are longest and most consistent. This type of popularity is quite an accomplishment for ...

Foreign students may face higher fees, be offered Dutch language lessons

THE NETHERLANDS. Foreign students in the Netherlands will be offered help in learning Dutch, and students from outside the EU may face higher fees, if new proposals on dealing with the internationalisation of the Dutch higher education system come into force.

Foreign students are an asset to the Netherlands

THE NETHERLANDS. Foreign students generate substantial revenues for the Dutch treasury, especially university students from outside Europe. However, the scale of this influx may pose a risk to the quality of education.
An opportunity, not a threat

An opportunity, not a threat

I've always prided myself on knowing my languages. Until I went to Penang, Malaysia. While enjoying my delicious banana pancakes one warm morning, Sandra, the (Indian) woman in charge of the restaurant area of the little hotel I was staying at came over and we started chatting casually. The conversation quickly turned to the different ethnic...

“China was a breath of fresh air, I could be openly gay there”

“China was a breath of fresh air, I could be openly gay there”

MAASTRICHT. Two years ago, Italian law student Davide Muraro was still “hidden in the closet”. A good year later, he set up UM Pride, the LGBT+ network (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender+) at Maastricht University. Last Monday, rector Rianne Letschert handed UM Pride the UM Student Prize, in the form of a distinction and a thousand euro....
Former Arts and Culture student Frouke Verhagen: delivering 265 babies in seven years

Former Arts and Culture student Frouke Verhagen: delivering 265 babies in seven years

She was eighteen years old, a first-year student of Arts and Culture and already quite domestically inclined, by her own account. “A white-picket-fence kind of person.” She wasn’t overly ambitious and she wouldn’t mind becoming a housewife, provided that her husband earned enough money to support their family. Fifteen years ...
On Missed Opportunities

On Missed Opportunities

Last week, I paid a pair of plumbers €140 for a job that took less than an hour and I found myself wondering: Why didn’t I become a plumber? Perhaps it was because in my early years, I mistakenly believed that I wouldn’t amount to anything, if I didn’t graduate from the right university or if I didn’t secure a job of...

“The great thing about such a large amount is that we can do both experimental and clinical research”

MAASTRICHT. A consortium led by Professor Anita Jansen, dean of the Faculty of Psychology and Neurosciences, has received almost twenty million euro through the Gravitation Programme. This makes it one of the larger subsidies that Maastricht University has ever received. The money will be used to further develop and research a new mo...
“In US Congress, there is only one PhD on 535 members”

“In US Congress, there is only one PhD on 535 members”

Together with his colleagues Rainer Weiss and Kip Thorne, Barry Barish (83) won the Nobel Prize in Physics 2017 for the discovery of gravitational waves. He became world famous overnight. Was his life turned upside down? And: what would be his best tip for ambitious students? Barish gave the key lecture at the Opening Academic Year.
Worries about budget shifts and limits on internationalisation

Worries about budget shifts and limits on internationalisation

MAASTRICHT. He is worried, said Maastricht University president Martin Paul, not only in his speech during the opening ceremony of the academic year, but again during the closing session. About the budget shifts that the 'Van Rijn committee' has in mind – more money for sciences at the expense of languages, humanities and the arts &nd...
“You have to ask yourself with every item on the agenda: why could this not be public?”

“You have to ask yourself with every item on the agenda: why could this not be public?”

MAASTRICHT. For two whole years, Dr Amanda Kluveld was chairperson of the Faculty Council at Arts and Social Sciences. As of 1 September, the Maastricht historian is the new chairperson of the University Council. She is an advocate of transparency and likes to give council members their space.

New Community-Engaged Research platform

MAASTRICHT. During the opening of the academic year, children's rights researcher Marieke Hopman announced the introduction of a new platform: the Maastricht Platform for Community-Engaged Research. According to Hopman, who herself carried out research into children's rights in the Central African Republic, many researchers at Maastricht Un...

“In France, I found what matches my personality”

“In France, I found what matches my personality”

Luisa Arens (20), second-year International Business student, describes her style as: “Chic and comfortable.”