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Entries for November 2019

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.