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The first virtual student

Forced by circumstances, the School of Business and Economics has recently ‘registered’ its first virtual student. A exchange student is doing the Brand Management block via a direct video link to Sweden. Using a laptop, webcam and Skype, she is able to participate in discussions during tutorial group meetings. She can hear and see everyone, says lecturer and ICT innovation manager Gwen Noteborn. “The other day, she noticed that a fellow-student had been to the hairdresser.”

Why all this trouble? The exchange student had an accident a few weeks ago. She sustained second-degree burns to her face in a pub, drinking ‘shots’ of which the liquor has been set alight. “She was immediately flown to Sweden, where she was treated in a burns unit. She is with her parents now and is not allowed outside the house because of the risk of infection. I felt really sorry for her. She is a beautiful girl too, although that should make no difference, really.”

The faculty is now investigating the possibility of setting up a room for video conferences. “This means that every seat must be fitted with a microphone and a camera must be installed that pans to the person speaking. This is also a solution in case the Mexican flu affects us. Imagine that several members of a tutorial group had to stay at home; they could then still meet the requirement of compulsory attendance through Skype. As far as I am concerned, this could also apply to other situations. At the moment I have a student who has an important job interview in Shanghai. You can’t very well say: ah, no, leave it.”

What about the exam? That should preferably be taken in Maastricht. The Swedish exchange student will be present.


Maurice Timmermans



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