MAASTRICHT. Maastricht University is the first in the Netherlands to have obtained a ‘family-friendly university’ certificate. The UM wants to take the home situation of its employees and students more into account.
The certificate is awarded by Beruf und Familie, a German consultancy firm that has already supported more than a hundred institutes in higher education in Germany. “One should regard the certificate as a declaration of intent to become family-friendly,” says project co-ordinator Natasja Reslow. “The focus is on students and employees with care duties. We turned it into UM Cares, because the word family might make it seem as if it only concerns families. But it is broader than that, because people who look after a sick neighbour are eligible for UM Cares too.”
Exactly what kind of help we should be thinking of, has not been set in stone yet. The programme will take shape over the next three years, which is how long the certificate is valid. One thing is certain: there will be a UM Cares point of contact for people who have questions. “In addition, we are thinking about setting up a child day care centre at the UM,” says Reslow. “Discussions in focus groups have revealed that there is a great need for this. We also want more flexibility with exams for students with care duties, but we are still investigating what options there are in this field.”
Reslow: “So, there is room for facilities especially for the UM, but Beruf und Familie also has a database with practical examples from German universities. For the time being, it is mainly a case of taking inventory of what students and employees come up against and what facilities are already in place.”