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Entries for January 2019

 “I feel so at home here”

“I feel so at home here”

Just before Christmas, Fabienne Crombach received an e-mail from rector Rianne Letschert telling her that she had been nominated for the Wynand Wijnen education prize. “Really nice, but I never actually expected to win. With my background as a student from a university of applied sciences, I was competing against scientists with doctorates an...
Flying tax for researchers

Flying tax for researchers

MAASTRICHT. As of January, researchers from the UNU-Merit institute pay a flying tax when they book a domestic flight or a flight abroad. The tax is deducted from the project budget. “I was slightly apprehensive for the reactions,” says director Bart Verspagen, “but the plan went down well.”

Experiment with pass/fail assessment at FPN

MAASTRICHT. The Faculty of Psychology and Neurosciences are going to experiment with a pass/fail assessment. In the upcoming second-year block of Man and Machine, students will not receive a grade for their exam, but just a pass or a fail. Block co-ordinator Herco Fonteijn, initiator of the experiment, hopes that because of this students will ...
A catalogue of failures

A catalogue of failures

It’s a fun fact that the acronym for the ‘Fuckup Nights’ is FUN. But what are the Fuckup Nights, you ask? An event series where entrepreneurs share their stories of professional failure. A global movement akin to the ‘CV of Failures’ published by one Princeton professor: a list of jobs he didn’t get, papers turne...

Tackling corruption the soft way

Tackling corruption the soft way

Hortense Jongen hopped on an airplane in Gothenburg last Thursday to pay an ultra-short visit to her hometown Maastricht. And with good reason: to accept the dissertation prize during the university’s founding day ceremony. Jongen researched how one could combat corruption on an international level using ‘soft governance’. The top...
‘Don’t take academic freedom for granted’

‘Don’t take academic freedom for granted’

MAASTRICHT. Whether it was about the approaching Brexit, climate change, the school children demonstrating in Brussels, or the attack on the Central European University (CEU) in Budapest: never has Maastricht University's founding day celebration - the theme this time being Global Challenges - been so full of political statements.
Painful knees and superintelligence

Painful knees and superintelligence

Topics varied from the influence of European democracy on civilian participation in Africa to the optimal income tax system, but the common factor of all theses that were rewarded with a Student Award last  Friday was they were the best of their year. Seventeen bachelor's and nine master's students received their prizes during the foun...
“I can’t remember one pro-EU story in the media”

“I can’t remember one pro-EU story in the media”

MAASTRICHT. The impending Brexit, whether it’ll be a hard or a soft Brexit, will come with a lot of uncertainty and misery. This was one of the conclusions drawn during Bridges over Brexit, the morning programme of the Dies Natalis celebration held in the Feestzaal (Bouillonstraat) last Friday. But it wasn’t all doom and gloom...
York President: “It prevents us from darkness”

York President: “It prevents us from darkness”

MAASTRICHT. The uncertainty surrounding Brexit is increasing, which is precisely the reason why Maastricht University has started a close collaboration with the University of York. The two universities will jointly invest more than three million euros in research and postgraduate education over the next three years. This ‘Maastricht Treaty&rs...

Cabinet tensions rise ahead of key debate on child refugee amnesty

THE NETHERLANDS. The four coalition parties have still not found a solution for the child refugee amnesty crisis, which is threatening to cause a serious division in the coalition.
Appearing in court

Appearing in court

Sanne Schauwaert/ 21/ recently completed a bachelor’s degree in Dutch Law/ works about two to three days per week/ earning 130 euros per session
UM professors examine ‘parking policy'

UM professors examine ‘parking policy'

MAASTRICHT. After the University Council had returned the mobility plan - commonly referred to as ‘parking policy’ - back to the drawing board last autumn, a large opinion poll will now be held within Maastricht University: what do people think when it comes to cycling, public transport, cars, parking spaces, or a cycling bonus? Three b...

Man rescued from under rubble after gas explosion in The Hague

THE NETHERLANDS. A man trapped in the rubble of an apartment building after a gas explosion in The Hague on Sunday afternoon was finally freed by rescue workers shortly before midnight.
Hobbies

Hobbies

Why does my employer care about my hobbies?, was my reaction after doing a CV workshop offered by the university. Apparently, it’s quite common in the Netherlands. In fact, it might be negative if you don’t. Because, as I was explained, employers want to know that you are someone, that you have your edges, a profile, that you are an act...

Jules blamed for not returning deposits

Jules blamed for not returning deposits

MAASTRICHT. Maastricht students have been complaining on Facebook about unreturned or partially unreturned deposits by student services agency Jules Maastricht. With more and more houses under their management and an administration that for a long time was carried out manually, it couldn't but go wrong. The tenants are the victims. Karin van de...
Honorary doctorate for two idealists

Honorary doctorate for two idealists

The one is devoted to freedom and democracy, the other seeks a genuine climate policy. This characterises the two laureates who will receive honorary doctorates during the university’s foundation day ceremony. Michael Ignatieff has been active in particular as rector of the Central European University (CEU) in the last few years, while writer...
Chakula Uponya: T-shirts for hospital meals

Chakula Uponya: T-shirts for hospital meals

MAASTRICHT. Two years ago, Victoria von Salmuth - currently a PhD candidate at the Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences - won the Student Award for the Shirati Food Programme when she was a student of Medicine. She set up this initiative in Tanzania, which supplies meals for patients in the Shirati hospital, as they themselves don't ha...
“The hardest part isn’t the coffee, but getting the milk foam right”

“The hardest part isn’t the coffee, but getting the milk foam right”

Gemma van der Elsen/ 20/ third-year student of Medicine/ works 5-12 hours per week/ earning about 9 euros per hour

NS reduces train services due to snow forecast, three centimetres expected

THE NETHERLANDS. Dutch railway company NS is running fewer services on Tuesday to head off problems with the forecast snow, even though no more than three centimetres is expected.

Coalition split as CDA, D66, ChristenUnie call for change to child refugee amnesty

THE NETHERLANDS. Three of the four Dutch coalition parties are now in favour of changes to the amnesty for well-rooted child refugees, saying the current situation is ‘untenable’.
British students keep their rights after ‘hard’ Brexit

British students keep their rights after ‘hard’ Brexit

If the United Kingdom leaves the European Union without a deal, British students studying in the Netherlands need not worry. They can continue their studies under the same conditions. Chances of a ‘hard’ Brexit have increased, after a big majority of the British parliament voted against prime minister Theresa May’s proposal on ...

Happy New Year - You survived the Dutch “tradition”!

Happy New Year - You survived the Dutch “tradition”!

This was my second New Year in the Netherlands. Last year was a shock, followed by the terror and misbelief that World War III had started. I thought that this time I would be better prepared for the unreasonable, unpredictable, and-- simply put-- ignorant, Dutch celebration. But this year Dutchies brought it to the next level. Paradoxically, as a ...

Fight against nonsense statistics

Fight against nonsense statistics

Imagine you, a researcher, are given a bag of money, unlimited time and personnel. What research would you do? Stephan Smeekes, data scientist at the School of Business and Economics, would like to investigate why computer programmes often find ‘nonsensical connections’ in big data. This wouldn't require large investments; it would ...
Smoking ban at Health Campus from 2021

Smoking ban at Health Campus from 2021

MAASTRICHT. As of 1 January 2021, smoking will no longer be permitted throughout the Health Campus in Randwijck. Smoking will not be allowed in and around the hospital from as early as 2020. Those are the aims, at least. The UM supports the hospital's plans, says President of Maastricht University Martin Paul, and the Executive Board will soon ...
Weekly deployment of student investigating officers to stop

Weekly deployment of student investigating officers to stop

MAASTRICHT. The structural deployment of student investigating officers (in Dutch buitengewone opsporingsambtenaren or boa’s), who have been riding around Maastricht dealing with student disturbances two evenings a week since March 2017 until July 2018, will stop. Instead, residents and students will first have to try and solve...
“This isn’t a sales pitch, it’s just the truth”

“This isn’t a sales pitch, it’s just the truth”

Quinten Eitjes/ 20/ second-year student of Arts and Culture/ works sixteen hours per week/ earning 10.50 euros net per hour
When a revolutionary invention gets in the wrong hands: A CRISPR catastrophe

When a revolutionary invention gets in the wrong hands: A CRISPR catastrophe

Science Fiction. In 2018, the first genome-edited baby will be born. Reality. It’s 2018, the first genome-edited twins were born. In November 2018, the world woke up to the news that the world’s first genome-edited babies were born. The Chinese scientist He Jiankui who lead this work, released the news in the most controversial wa...

More refugee families with children disappear from deportation centres

THE NETHERLANDS. Last year, 360 asylum seekers disappeared from family refugee accommodation in the Netherlands, of whom 210 were children, the Volkskrant reported on Tuesday.
Shorter waiting times UM psychologists, emphasis on prevention

Shorter waiting times UM psychologists, emphasis on prevention

MAASTRICHT. Not more psychologists, initially, but shorter waiting times of a maximum of four weeks. How does the team of student supervisors at Maastricht University plan on managing that? Among others by focussing more on prevention, says the new plan for student well-being. The magic word is communication about what the UM has to offer for stude...

Election campaign heats up as coalition leaders clash over climate change deal

THE NETHERLANDS. Coalition parties VVD and D66 have clashed over the government’s plans to cut carbon emissions, with both sides warning that they are prepared to bring down the coalition over the issue.
Drawing without borders

Drawing without borders

Last Spring, I participated in a one-hour workshop at a medical humanities conference attended by sociologists, clinicians, researchers, healthcare leaders, or a hybrid thereof. The workshop leader, a nurse and cartoonist, provided crayons and paper, and asked us to bring our creativity and open minds. Our only rule to follow was that there was no ...

Bringing order into the jungle of small-scale studies

Bringing order into the jungle of small-scale studies

Imagine you, a researcher, are given a bag of money, unlimited time and personnel. What research would you do? Molecular biologist Manon van Engeland would like to set up a study to collect all biomarker cancer research projects in a database. Why? To enable patients to benefit as quickly as possible from the detection of the early signs of cancer....
Global Surgery: surgery for everyone

Global Surgery: surgery for everyone

Five billion people worldwide have no access to affordable and safe surgery and anaesthesia. That must change, says Incision (International Student Surgical Network), a worldwide student organisation that is dedicated to making surgery accessible to everyone. Sixth-year medical student, Darja Sempf, is in the process of setting up a Maastricht bran...

FPN: plugging the gap is unrealistic

MAASTRICHT. Both the board and the Faculty Council of Psychology and Neurosciences were completely taken aback when the University Council did not approve their quality agreements. The University Council could not look past the gap of 1.8 million euro between the income and expenses for education. But this deficit has always been there and never be...

University Council gives go-ahead for quality agreements, except for Psychology

MAASTRICHT. The University Council did not approve the quality agreements for the Faculty of Psychology and Neurosciences in its last meeting before Christmas. The controversial issue was the fact that Psychology would not actually spend all their funds for education on education. All other faculties were given the go-ahead, even if it was a strugg...
The Middle East in Maastricht

The Middle East in Maastricht

For decades now, life in Maastricht has been enriched by butchers, bakers and grocers from the Middle East. First-class lamb meat, Turkish and Lebanese bread and an abundance of herbs have vastly improved the quality of life, or at least my life.
The mysterious disappearance of the meds

The mysterious disappearance of the meds

Danny Steijvers/ 27/ sixth-year student of Medicine/ works 25 to 30 hours per week/ earning about 11 euros net per hour (excluding evening and weekend surcharges)

More people switch health insurer in year end transfer window

THE NETHERLANDS. Some 1.1 million people have switched health insurance company during the most recent transfer window, according to preliminary figures from health insurer association ZN.

Fundamentalist Protestants under fire over anti-gay rights statement

THE NETHERLANDS. Some 250 Protestant ministers in the Netherlands have signed a Dutch version of the Nashville Statement – a controversial document originating in the US which has been slammed for promoting homophobia, transphobia and misogyny.