After Saudi Arabia, now also stop for Kuwait and Oman
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 programme.
The grant programmes in Saudi Arabia, which started in 2007 with the intention of training dozens of medical students annually (not subject to the regular intake restriction), had already come to an end at an earlier stage. Now two Gulf States are following suit: Kuwait and Oman.
The experiences with the Saudis were the most frustrating. Continuous escalating conflicts with their government, especially about the language of instruction and internships abroad. This even resulted in the government in Riyadh temporarily not sending any more students. However, this measure - meant to put pressure on the UM, - backfired, as FHML decided in 2015 to formally end the collaboration. Also because the results of the Saudi students were not always up to scratch, and their behaviour occasionally caused a problem too. Lots of complaints, insufficient study discipline, according to the faculty.
To replace the influx of Saudis, the programme was then made available to students from the Gulf states, mainly Kuwait and Oman. They also arrived with a generous government grant, partly to cover the institutional tuition fees of 32.000 euro. Agreements were made with the governments there, which - unlike those with the Saudis - were slightly easier to arrange. Roger Rennenberg, programme director for Medicine: “Those contracts didn't need to be adapted all the time.” But it still wasn't without problems. Negotiations with the Ministries of Education “proceed differently from those here,” Rennenberg sighs, and “the fact that education and politics are closely interwoven” was another thing that the faculty wasn’t pleased with.
So exit for the Kuwaitis and Omanis, at least those who came here through the government. Individual students who come here on their own steam are still welcome to join in the lottery for a regular place in the programme. There have never been that many ‘government students’ anyway, Rennenberg doesn't know the numbers but he estimates a total of about 25 over the past few years. The last seven or so will now go from the bachelor's to the master's.
Unlike the other Medicine programmes, this master’s programme is in English. The internships are in hospitals abroad. There are excellent contacts with Ireland, work placements there meeting all the Maastricht requirements. “We want to maintain those experiences and contacts,” says Rennenberg, “so we are looking into opening up the programme to regular medical students.”