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Exotic diseases are also prevalent in small provincial towns

Exotic diseases are also prevalent in small provincial towns

FHML wants to become more international

MAASTRICHT. Ebola doesn’t stop at national borders; diseases and patients travel around the world more than ever before. That in itself, the Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences thinks, is an important reason for making education at the faculty more international. For this process, there will be a special International Education Co-ordinator.

FHML has more courses in Dutch than any other UM faculty. At the moment, two of the five bachelor’s and thirteen of the sixteen master’s are in English. The idea is that those numbers should be raised.

The faculty education institute produced a reviewed memo about the desired level of internationalisation last year; a previous version was regarded as not specific enough. Now there is a detailed document with strategies, objectives, targets and activities. The three education committees and the faculty council are positive about the plan, although they would like to make some notes.

The point of departure is that students in Maastricht end up working in a globalising world; these days, even a doctor in a small provincial town has ‘exotic’ patients and exotic diseases. This requires – also for other workers in health care – a broader view on what is going on internationally, and more ‘intercultural competencies’. In addition, a more international faculty is more appealing to students, including foreign students, who in turn generate additional income.

Because of all those reasons, all FHML programmes will get an “international and intercultural dimension”, even the non-English programmes. This will have to be specified in greater detail for each programme. It is also necessary that not only the education system but also the organisation around it becomes more diversity-minded. This will even be included in the FHML Code of Conduct. In addition, the memo stresses that students and staff should have a good command of English; this has been a source of complaints by students for years. In the faculty council, a student asked what would be done with lecturers who, even after having taken an English course “could still not be understood”.

Dean Albert Scherpbier did not have an answer: “Maybe some coaching would help,” he suggested. Scherpbier made it very clear that this was a memo from the education institute and that all responsibility lay with that body. Replying to questions about the budget for these plans, he answered: “The education institute has its own budget; they will have to find the funding within those boundaries.”

The dean hinted that the faculty had not discovered internationalisation overnight. In particular the department of Medicine had been involved in an international network before any other faculty did, among others in third world countries. “Many students did and still do spend time abroad,” he said.

 

Wammes Bos

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