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Entries for April 2017

A light in the storm

A light in the storm

There is a wonderful painting by James Ensor, a Belgian painter who lived across the nineteenth and twentieth century. The painting is called “Christ Calming the Storm”. It represents Jesus calming a storm which caught him and his disciples by surprise, while crossing the Sea of Galilee. The turbulent sea and sky are reproduced with an ...

“If those over sixty work less, there are more permanent jobs for young people”

MAASTRICHT. The Lokaal Overleg (Local Negotiations between Maastricht representatives of the unions and the Executive Board) wants senior employees (60+) to be given the chance to work less for a slightly lower salary, without affecting the level of their retirement benefits. The hours that become available this way can be allocated to younger empl...
Myth: As robots and computers become smarter, we will be released from our responsibility

Myth: As robots and computers become smarter, we will be released from our responsibility

Self-driving cars, drones used in war zones, robots used to carry out surgical operations. Examples of computers playing a major role, but what happens if something goes wrong? What if a self-driving car doesn't stop at a zebra crossing? Who is responsible? According to Merel Noorman, technology philosopher and postdoc at the Faculty of Arts a...

New policy for academic staff careers: transparent and nonsexist

MAASTRICHT. There will be a tenure track policy throughout the UM that should give researchers a reasonable chance to get promotion and receive a permanent appointment, as long as certain well-defined conditions have been met. Women will receive extra encouragement.

Students: introduce video recording of lectures across UM

MAASTRICHT. It is high time that all compulsory bachelor's lectures are recorded, say students in the University Council.
“So what was the deal with the erotic cinema?”

“So what was the deal with the erotic cinema?”

Professor Erik Driessen arrives bearing a bottle of wine and a gift: a Raymond van Barneveld dartboard. He is in awe of the reception committee. “That I, a mere citizen, can sit at the table with the board!” Because indeed, the full board of HG Sunergos has turned out for the occasion. Sunergos mean “working together” (think...

Opinion: “The French and their penchant for scandal”

Opinion: “The French and their penchant for scandal”

She has a lot of electoral homework to do these days. On the back of the Dutch parliamentary elections, freelance journalist Lisa Dupuy, a graduate of University College Maastricht, is now looking south – to France. Thanks to her dual French nationality, she is eligible to vote in the upcoming elections on 23 April. Who are the candidate...
Europe without the EU? Unthinkable

Europe without the EU? Unthinkable

“We should not begin to speak of Europe first but instead, think of all continents, countries and individuals as standing on equal terms”. In times of Donald Trump and wide-spread populist sentiments it is easy to follow this line of thinking. But it is important remember that being pro-Europe does not mean to be against all others. ...

Celebrating women at Ladyfest

Celebrating women at Ladyfest

MAASTRICHT. Ladyfest is a festival to celebrate, empower and inspire women. This worldwide concept will come to Maastricht for the first time at the Mandril Cultural Centre on 6 and 7 May. It’s a do-it-yourself festival, meaning that instead of the organisers inviting and paying artists to come, Ladyfest is non-commercial and built from wi...

More students are not paying back their loans

THE NETHERLANDS. Almost 100,000 former students failed to pay back their student loans within the allotted 15 years, according to preliminary figures from the education ministry’s payment agency DUO.
Trembling on the way to boot camp

Trembling on the way to boot camp

UM Sports opened the doors of the new university sports centre one year ago. Each week, Observant shows up in sports gear to participate in one of the sessions, and will do so until the summer. Today: outdoor boot camp.

Dijsselbloem stands by controversial ‘drink and women’ comments

THE NETHERLANDS. Caretaker finance minister and Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem has refused to apologise for his ‘drink and women’ comments that prompted angry calls for his resignation.
Stand up for science

Stand up for science

MAASTRICHT. No science no evidence, no truth, no democracy. That is the idea behind the March for Science, an initiative that has been embraced around the world. On Saturday 22 April, a march will be organised in about 430 cities, including Maastricht. “We want to celebrate science that day. Researchers will come down from their ivory to...

A Turkish Tragedy

A Turkish Tragedy

Being born in Germany but raised in a pretty Turkish household I look at the approaching constitutional referendum with a feeling of alienation, while being touched on a very personal level. ‘Erdogan’s Turkey’ is the object of frequent and often justified critique. A strong, unnegotiable stance towards the Turkish President is jus...

Maastricht 6th-best young university worldwide

Maastricht 6th-best young university worldwide

MAASTRICHT/BRISBANE. Maastricht University (UM) has dropped two places - from fourth to sixth - in the Young University Rankings for best young universities in the world. This has put the UM back in the same place as in 2015. The rankings were published yesterday during the Young Universities Summit in Brisbane, Australia. The Maastricht Executive ...

Myth: doctors can do a lot these days

Myth: doctors can do a lot these days

When prof. Harald Schmidt was a student, many lecturers and students raved about the holistic approach in medicine. Schmidt did not want to have anything to do with that “woolly babble”. He felt that if someone had a heart problem, you should look at his or her heart, and not at the person as a whole. In the meantime, he has change...

Maastricht scientist has started a petition to support CEU

Maastricht scientist has started a petition to support CEU

HUNGARY/MAASTRICHT. On Tuesday 4 April, the Hungarian parliament adopted a bill that jeopardises the future of the well-known Central European University (CEU) in Budapest. Maastricht scientist Lutz Krebs has started a petition.
Salaries up, workload down

Salaries up, workload down

THE NETHERLANDS/MAASTRICHT. It was not an easy task, but unions and universities have reached a new collective labour contract. One of the most important agreements is that the workload will be addressed. The UM has already invested millions, but the University Council thinks that this is not enough.

From ‘very good’ to ‘world-leading’

MAASTRICHT. The Maastricht institutes ICIS and UNU Merit received much praise after a joint VSNU research audit. In the area of ‘relevance to society’, they are ‘world-leading’. There are weak points too, such as the small number of research grants and the complicated organisational structure.
How research became part of a bachelor’s programme

How research became part of a bachelor’s programme

MAASTRICHT. How do you give students the chance to do research during their bachelor’s degree? This was the question Maastricht University asked in 2008. The answer: the Maastricht Research-Based Learning programme for Excellence (MaRBLe). If there were initial doubts – should it really be only for excellent students? Will researchers b...
“What a luxury, four men cooking for me”

“What a luxury, four men cooking for me”

It takes barely five minutes for the battle for the women’s panties to come up in conversation. This weekend – counting from when this dinner took place, in late March –the underpants will be hanging from a pole smeared with grease, soap and oil during NOOC, the grand opening of the rowing season in Tilburg. “All of Vidar [t]...

Illiteracy costs Dutch society €1bn a year, 2.5 million can’t read or write well

THE NETHERLANDS. There are 2.5 million people in the Netherlands who cannot read or write well and together they cost society €1bn a year, according to pro-literacy foundation Stichting Lezen & Schrijven.
Relaxing, this tap-tap of the ball

Relaxing, this tap-tap of the ball

UM Sports opened the doors of the new university sports centre one year ago. Each week, Observant shows up in sports gear to participate in one of the sessions, and will do so until the summer. Today: table tennis.

COC calls for action against rising tide of homophobic attacks

THE NETHERLANDS. The leading gay rights organisation in the Netherlands has called for the next government to take action against the rising frequency of homophobic attacks.