Photographer:Fotograaf: Joey Roberts
MAASTRICHT. Two courses in Maastricht, four in Finland, one in Madrid, and then three more in Cyprus. As of coming September, this might actually be a study year of a Maastricht University (UM) student. Last Monday morning, students and staff gathered for the first time in the Saint Jan’s Church on the Vrijthof for an information session about YUFE (Young Universities for the Future of Europe).
YUFE is one of the seventeen collaborative projects that were granted five million euros by the European commission last summer to create a European University. The alliance, which is chaired by UM President Martin Paul, got the highest score of all 54 applications – 97 out of 100 points – says YUFE director and UM employee Daniela Trani proudly to the audience during her speech.
The idea is that YUFE students compose their own interdisciplinary curriculum, with courses from any of the eight partner universities in, for example, Madrid, Antwerp or Rome, or from one of the six associate partners such as the university of Rijeka in Croatia, but also non-academic institutions such as The Adecco Group France. In fact, it is also possible for employees to work at the other YUFE locations for a period of time.
Trani: “Assessable education is the most important point, but students will also be assessed on what they do outside the university walls. We are also going to look at social participation and language skills, for example.”
Apart from Trani’s, there are speeches from the regional Minister for Economic affairs, Joost van den Akker, and from Vanessa Debiais-Sainton, who works on higher education at the European Commission. Debiais-Sainton is very enthusiastic about the project, although “the European university should not be seen as a project, but as an ambitious long-term vision for higher education. In a world of environmental, technological and societal transitions, the role of education is key.”
After the speeches, there are some twenty minutes left for a Q&A session. “In what way will a YUFE student be different from a ‘normal’ student who studies abroad?” asks a student representative from the University of Essex. A valid question, since Trani said a little earlier that students will not be forced to learn a new language and be socially active in the community. “It’s all voluntary.” A concrete answer doesn’t come, merely a dream for the years to come. “In the future, there will be no difference because every UM student is then also a YUFE student and vice versa.”