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Substantial increase of first-years

Substantial increase of first-years

Photographer:Fotograaf: Observant/ previous Inkom in the park

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.

The October figures have been published and although they are only ‘provisional’, it appears that a considerable number of students have decided to come and study in Maastricht. Whereas the growth rate in previous years was about 5 to 6 per cent, it is now 8.6 per cent. Moreover, the growth is visible in the figures for both the bachelor's and the master's programmes.

Many faculties are popular, but Arts and Social Sciences (with an increase of 17 per cent) and the School of Business and Economics (25 per cent up) stand out. The reason is the transfer of research institute ICIS and the School of Governance to Business and Economics (SBE). This means that their master's programmes of Sustainability Science and Policy and Public Policy and Human Development also come under SBE. As expected, this move means fewer new students for the Faculty of Science and Engineering. The Faculty of Law had a small increase, with 3 per cent.

More and more foreign students embark on a study programme in Maastricht. In 2015, the number was 3,839 first-year students; this number has now risen by a thousand. One fifth is from Germany, but in relative terms, this group has shrunk. On the other hand, more students from the EEA, the European Union plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, have registered.

The ratio of foreign versus Dutch students at the UM as a whole, has risen to 54/46 per cent.
Martin Paul, President of Maastricht University, has on multiple occasions during the past few years emphasised that he wants the UM to continue to be diverse. And whereas the aim was to arrive at a 50/50 ratio between Dutch and foreign students, the margins have meanwhile been stretched – it could even become 40/60, Paul previously said in the media.

At the same time, the political preference regarding internationalisation is swaying. In the Lower Chamber, criticism has been vented and education minister Van Engelshoven is afraid that Dutch students will suffer from the increasing influx of foreign students. Studies are said to become less accessible because they are offered in English. Van Engelshoven also fears the loss of the Dutch language among academics. That is why she wants to set limits on the use of languages in study programmes: other languages than Dutch only if this has added value. This is what she wrote in her plans last September. There was criticism both from VSNU (Association of Universities) and from the Council of State. The latter advises the minister to review the bill before sending it to the Lower House.

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