MAASTRICHT. From now on, the Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences wants binding, and in particular signed, contracts with foreign governments concerning organised groups of incoming students. They want no more surprises like the one in September, when a batch of Kuwaitis simply left.
This is what professor Jan-Joost Rethans, programme director at Medicine said to the faculty council last week. In this meeting, he outlined the future of the study of Medicine. Whereas until now, there was a Dutch bachelor's and master's programme and an English variant that differed in content, this will change. There will be one programme in two versions, a Dutch and an English one, with the restriction that the English track can only accommodate sixty students because of the number of available work placements for the internships. Initially, the latter will be organised primarily in Ireland. The elective courses will also differ slightly.
The study programme will definitely become more internationally oriented. This is because the profession of physician is changing: the patient population is becoming more international and e-health is not restricted by borders either.
Furthermore, everyone will have to pass through the decentralised (i.e. faculty) selection process, even students who have so far come through a ‘premed’ catch-up programme at University College: first from Saudi Arabia, later from Kuwait.
Since recently, the faculty has had problems with the Kuwaitis. On a modest scale, they replaced the Saudis when the latter’s influx was reduced and subsequently ended by the faculty. The Kuwaiti students are also subsidised by their government. The faculty negotiates with Kuwait cultural attachés on this matter. Negotiations are not always easy, Rethans later explains when asked, if only because it was unclear whether their attaché was in Paris or in London last summer. The faculty has no complaints about the students themselves. “They are doing very well,” says Rethans. In July, 35 Kuwait students did the bachelor's of Medicine. Rethans wanted a contract on the number of students and conditions under which they could study here, but because of a lack of clarity with the attachés, such a contract was never signed. High-level negotiations took place last September between the UM and two attachés, as well as a representative from the Kuwait Ministry of Education, says Rethans. But a few days later, he was informed that almost half of the Kuwait students (16 out of 35) had suddenly left. Exactly where they went, is formally still unclear, but Rethans suspects that these students have moved to a university in Leicester, England. Two students have confirmed that they are not coming back, the others have said nothing. Rethans wants to visit the cultural attaché in Paris, together with FHML dean Scherpbier, to clear up the matter and make binding agreements for the future.