MAASTRICHT. New master’s programme on the Venlo campus, an MBA course for care professionals and a teacher’s training programme in Maastricht. Maastricht University and the Radboud University in Nijmegen are going to work more closely together. The time when Nijmegen feared competition from Maastricht, seems to have passed.
The two universities will hatch out a plan for new initiatives in the coming time, but there are already plans for two master’s programmes: (Technical) Physics and Biotechnology. The curriculum for Biotechnology – at the Venlo location – has already been worked out, the suitability request is about to be sent off to the Accreditation Organisation of the Netherlands and Flanders (NVAO), which will grant or refuse the go-ahead.
“In terms of content, this master’s programme fits in with the idea of future farming,” says Thomas Cleij, dean of the Faculty of Science & Engineering. “It focuses on the latest technology in the field of plant cultivation, sustainable agriculture, and the reduction of pesticides. The master’s could start in September 2022, although these days everything is between inverted commas because of COVID-19.”
The curriculum and location of the master’s of Physics are still being discussed. Cleij: “We do see clear opportunities, especially in the combination of the UM and the Radboud University. Classic Nijmegen, with its enormous expertise in many fields and an extensive infrastructure, including laser systems. It is also well represented politically, through the membership of various NWO committees. On the other side is innovative Maastricht, which switches into new directions much more quickly.”
The two institutes also work together in the field of gravitational waves. Professor Stefan Hild and researchers from Nijmegen intend to apply for a NWO gravitational wave subsidy for Gravitational Waves with Aspects on Black Holes and Multimessenger Astronomy. Nijmegen already had researchers participating in ET Pathfinder, the test setup for gravitational waves in Randwijck.
There are also plans for an MBA programme for care professionals, involving the School of Business and Economics and the Faculty of Health, Medicine & Life Sciences. At this moment, it is being assessed how the programme could distinguish itself from similar MBAs, and whether leadership development could play a role in it.
Lastly, an outline has been drawn up of an academic teacher training programme at the UM. Or to be more precise, an auxiliary branch of the Radboud Teachers Academy. Schools in Southern and Central Limburg appear to have a need for academically trained teachers and for more additional training. At the same time, students from the Radboud Teachers Academy in Nijmegen could do work placements at schools in Limburg.
Deep brain stimulation
The Maastricht-Nijmegen collaboration is not new. This has been happening in the medical field since 2018, under the name of ‘Academic Alliance’. Last year, two large ‘exploration meetings’ were arranged in which experts from Maastricht and Nijmegen made plans for joint research into cancer and infectious diseases. At the end of 2019, there were a total of thirteen collaboration agreements for topics such as cardiovascular diseases, genetics, imaging and neurosciences.
The ‘alliance’ was quickly formed for deep brain stimulation (DBS), says the Maastricht neurosurgeon professor Yasin Temel. “We helped with the realisation of a DBS centre in Nijmegen, where a Maastricht neurosurgeon also carried out deep brain stimulation surgery. On the other hand, a neurologist from Nijmegen will be detached to help us with the improvement of care for Parkinson’s disease patients.”
In an interview with university paper Vox, the Nijmegen rector Han van Krieken states that the collaboration with Maastricht is partly strategic in nature. “Together with Maastricht, we stand stronger against the Randstad.” Moreover: “Wageningen and Eindhoven have been working together with Utrecht for some time. And Twente has chosen the VU. Aside from that, Maastricht is certainly an interesting partner.” Partly because of the campus in Venlo, says Van Krieken.
The love between Maastricht and Nijmegen has not always been great. Sometimes, Radboud University was obstructive, in particular when the UM announced new science programmes. They feared the competition. Partly as a result of that, it has taken five years before the master’s programmes of Biobased Materials and System Biology could be launched. In the nineteen-nineties, it was the introduction of Psychology in Maastricht that led to a lot of protest from Nijmegen. To no avail.