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 2020 or 2021.
Thomas Cleij, dean of the Faculty of Science and Engineering, was knocked over with surprise. Not because other universities made objections against the new UM study programmes; that often happens, it did with the Maastricht science master’s programmes of Bio-based Materials and Systems Biology. It was the timing that surprises him.
“We never made any secret about the plans we had for the study programmes. With the realisation of the sector plan, meant for the minister, I myself and others from the UM have extensively communicated about this throughout the country. Which science faculty is good at what, but also: What are the plans for the future? In spring we even exchanged each other’s drafts. The whole of the Netherlands was informed. It was also reported in Observant at the beginning of this year.”
Yet at the end of August, the Universities of Technology claimed that they knew nothing about it. “It seems that it wasn't the science deans who sounded the alarm bell but the Executive Boards, while they were clearly not well informed. Obviously there is a lot of room for improvement for internal communication there.”
The UoTs also state that Maastricht does not bring anything new to the table, that the Universities of Technology are already offering such programmes. Not true, says Cleij. “Circular Engineering, as we have it in mind, cannot be studied anywhere else. Nowhere in the world, if you get my meaning. We are going train engineers who think differently, who realise that things come from some place and end up in some other place, and that this is reflected in a footprint. This will be embedded in a typical Maastricht education system, with lots of free electives and on a small scale.”
The Commissie Doelmatigheid Hoger Onderwijs (Higher Education Efficiency Commission), which advises the minister, has already given the go-ahead for the (English) bachelor’s and master’s programmes. The commission, however, was not happy with the name ‘Circular Engineering’ and advised that the name should connect more with related studies. But that is not going to happen. “The name is very clear. Everyone immediately knows what we mean by it.”
Have the relationships with the other science faculties not been damaged? “Not at all. I am sure that the deans throughout the country have no worries at all about the UM's plans. There is enough room in our country. The Higher Education Efficiency Commission thinks so too.”