UCM dean Hospers: “Trust me”
University College Maastricht wants to raise lecture fees by 1,200 euros. This means that UCM students will have to pay almost 3,000 euros, unless they can prove that the extra amount is an insurmountable obstacle. The University Council is wondering who will and who won’t be eligible for dispensation (waiver).
There was hardly any squabbling about the principle as such during the UC committee meeting last week: UCM is allowed to ask for more money for its intensive education system. The law ('Give talent every chance') has recently made this possible, provided it is for small-scale intensive courses and students do not stay away because of financial reasons. Ultimately, it is the minister of education's decision. UCM makes the application to the ministry together with the University Colleges from Utrecht, Amsterdam, and Leiden. They already demanded an extra fee from students, varying from 1,100 to 2,055 euros, but this was in principle a voluntary contribution.
According to UCM, this measure is necessary because otherwise it cannot maintain the quality of the programme, let alone improve it. In addition, the general cuts at the UM mean that the college has to make do with two hundred thousand euros a year less: this amount will be absorbed by the higher income, rising to 650,000 euros by 2015.
Competition with the other colleges also plays a role. Maastricht is now at the bottom of the lists, something that has everything to do with the tighter financial situation here, according to dean Harm Hospers. He wants to use the additional funds to start a grants programme, to attract talented students from developing countries: “We are mainly a European institute at the moment,” he said to the University Council committee.
The council members had no objections, except for one thing: what criteria will be used to decide which students receive dispensation from the extra contribution? Hospers could not answer this question yet; a system needs to be worked out. “Trust me,” was what he said time and again when the committee pressed for more definite information.
Applications for dispensation will be looked at on a strictly individual basis, promised rector Gerard Mols, who was also present. For example, there is a rule that the extra contribution must be paid if a student can borrow the money from the government, but if someone presents convincing arguments why he/she cannot or will not borrow, then there is the possibility of a waiver, he said.