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Entries for October 2019

“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.