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Entries for January 2021

Education programme for period five: online or hybrid, decision next week

Education programme for period five: online or hybrid, decision next week

MAASTRICHT. Online education or hybrid after all? A decision will be taken very shortly about what period five – April to June –will look like. Rector Rianne Letschert made this promise to the University Council last Wednesday.

Equal opportunity? Honours programmes on track, says Minister

THE NETHERLANDS/MAASTRICHT. Students whose parents had a lower level of education have less chance of being selected for honours programmes in higher education. Minister van Engelshoven finds this unfortunate, but there is little she can do about it.
On being a scientist: is it a lifestyle or a 9-5-job?

On being a scientist: is it a lifestyle or a 9-5-job?

“Whenever I read young scientists complaining about long working hours or stress or not having a permanent position, my advice is ‘leave science’. Science is creative, an art form. No artist, singer, writer would ever complain about long working hours or lack of a permanent job. It’s not a normal job but it can be the best j...
"Sometimes, people primarily want to feel less lonely"

"Sometimes, people primarily want to feel less lonely"

MAASTRICHT. Home sharing, those two words say it all: sharing a home. Students moving in with a landlady or landlord and in return for giving help they pay less rent. They cook, do the gardening, or walk the dog. Or they teach a new language. Connecting is the magic word.

Rector wants an alternative to online proctoring

MAASTRICHT. Maastricht University would prefer to stop with online proctoring - online testing under camera surveillance - and switch to alternative testing options. Rector Rianne Letschert said this last Wednesday during the latest meeting of the university council.
Last days in Maastricht - Lockdown Edition

Last days in Maastricht - Lockdown Edition

Surrounded by trash bags (as I can't go to HEMA to buy nicely spotted boxes, the supermarket trash bags will do), I take a sip of the same tea I've been drinking all week, trying to finish the box before Thursday. Because Thursday it's finally going to happen: I will move out of my room, grab my suitcase, and, after a Covid-19 test, hop...

LSVb wants online exam proctoring to end

THE NETHERLANDS. National student organisation LSVb reports that many universities and universities of applied sciences are still using online proctoring during exams, even though this gives rise to all sorts of problems.
Construction of new laboratory animal facility delayed considerably

Construction of new laboratory animal facility delayed considerably

MAASTRICHT. The construction of a new laboratory animal facility in Randwyck, the Biomedical Centre (BMC), has suffered a serious delay. It was to be finished this year, but that won’t be possible by a long shot. Discussions with potential construction companies and technicians are taking longer than planned; their prices are said to be too h...
Many questions about students’ plan for a spiritual space at FASoS

Many questions about students’ plan for a spiritual space at FASoS

MAASTRICHT. The student fraction of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences wants a ‘spiritual space’ in the FASoS building. This would enable staff and students to pray, meditate or hold discussions. The proposal raised many questions during the latest faculty council meeting.
“When I leave the attic and go downstairs, I am home”

“When I leave the attic and go downstairs, I am home”

The new lockdown brings new challenges for Olga Penninger, study advisor at the Faculty of Psychology and Neurosciences. “We are showing a new colleague the ropes but not everyone can work as hard as normal because of their personal circumstances, so I now have extra work.” That is, as far as is possible, because Penninger and her partn...
UPDATE 2: Fear of riots in Maastricht

UPDATE 2: Fear of riots in Maastricht

MAASTRICHT. After riots broke out in several Dutch cities in recent days, there is now fear that rioters will be moving to the city center of Maastricht tonight - January 26. Messages on social media give cause for this. Maastricht University is taking precautions.
New UM member of De Jonge Akademie wants to encourage doctors to do research

New UM member of De Jonge Akademie wants to encourage doctors to do research

How can you get and keep young doctors interested in research? Lung specialist and researcher Lizza Hendriks wants to look into this, now that she has joined De Jonge Akademie as the third Maastricht member. “Many doctors contribute towards research, but few actually set up their own research.”
The Power of Poetry

The Power of Poetry

After Amanda Gorman’s evocative poetry reading at Joe Biden’s inauguration on the 20th of January, several friends who know that poetry is woven into the fabric of my life wrote to me about how moved they were by her words. Poetry is powerful. Verse can heal an agitated heart. Reconciling stanzas can calm and douse fiery ...

Curfew is “heavy blow” for students

Curfew is “heavy blow” for students

A curfew has been introduced, starting this weekend. Between nine o’ clock in the evening and half past four in the morning nobody – with a few exceptions – is allowed outside. This won’t make much difference to club life, say the chairpersons of the Maastricht student associations. For student life in general, they feel tha...
An intellectual, not a career tiger

An intellectual, not a career tiger

“The university that I once chose, unfortunately no longer exists. It was fantastic: young, with an experimental nature and lots of room for creativity. You could also be critical without being put in the corner.” Tannelie Blom, professor of European Studies, came to Maastricht in 1986, was one of those responsible for starting Arts and...
“You can forget about getting a flying start to your career”

“You can forget about getting a flying start to your career”

Chic conferences, polished presentations and glossy journals. The scientific world seems like one big success story. “Seems”, because reality, of course, is different. In this series, Observant will look for the mistakes, the setbacks, the slip-ups, the unexpected turns. Because those too, or maybe even especially, are science...
“It felt like they’d rolled out the red carpet for me at MECC Maastricht”

“It felt like they’d rolled out the red carpet for me at MECC Maastricht”

He hasn’t been to any illegal parties, but he has been attending Business Days. No, first-year student of Econometrics Cedric Pots (18) from Maastricht is not looking for a job yet, but he enjoys taking a look behind the scenes at companies. He has already met quite a lot of students, but he hasn’t made any friends yet. 
Online Debate

Online Debate

I take a sip of Glühwein, trying to recover from today's online debate. And I don't add the 'online' to remind everyone of the lockdown we're still (again?) in - no one needs a reminder of that. Instead, I emphasize the online nature of the debate because that's the culprit that turned my passionate, convincing arguments int...

EMDR can elicit false memories

EMDR can elicit false memories

The GGZ views EMDR to be one of the best trauma treatments at this time, it does have an awkward side effect: it can elicit false memories. This appeared from the PhD research by Maastricht forensic psychologist Sanne Houben. 

Curfew likely to affect exam schedules

THE NETHERLANDS. Pending approval by the House of Representatives later today, there will be a curfew in the Netherlands between 20.30 and 4.30, until 9 February. Universities and students continue to hope that an exception will be made for exams scheduled in the evening.

Senate picks apart law against anglicisation of higher education

THE NETHERLANDS. Are we creating a paper tiger? And why should the government even get involved in such an issue? The Dutch Senate has voiced serious reservations about a new law that is intended to stop the anglicisation of higher education in the Netherlands.

Students: more drug use and financial worries due to Covid

THE NETHERLANDS. They are losing their jobs or getting their hours cut – nearly one in three students are struggling with financial worries during the coronavirus crisis, a survey conducted among 1,250 students reveals. Substance abuse is also on the rise.
Executive Board deviates from LOWI opinion on professor

Executive Board deviates from LOWI opinion on professor

MAASTRICHT. Did a UM professor of Cardiology commit a violation of scientific integrity or didn’t she? According to the Netherlands Board on Research Integrity (LOWI), she did – at least on one of the many points raised by the complainant, a PhD student. The Executive Board has decided not to act on this LOWI opinion, although the ...

English-language teaching: the show must go on

THE NETHERLANDS. In the eyes of the government, there are five good reasons for maintaining English-language teaching in higher education. Study programmes will have to meet at least two of the five conditions or switch to the Dutch language.
Best for science?

Best for science?

Just before Christmas the Dutch Research Council announced that there would be no extension of the January deadline for their Dutch Research Agenda funding scheme. Damn. Who does not like an extension? This extension was especially desired by many applicants recently thrust into the sleep-destroying care-work balance of the second total lockdown. A...

Lockdown, son of sixteen months and pregnant: “I accept that I can publish less at the moment”

Lockdown, son of sixteen months and pregnant: “I accept that I can publish less at the moment”

Since the lockdown in March, she has only been to the faculty a couple of times, to print or collect something, and once for a meeting. She hadn’t planned it that way. Aline Sierp, Assistant Professor of European Studies, had wanted to come to the campus every week from September 2020.

Now that the government has collapsed...

THE NETHERLANDS. The Dutch government was toppled Friday by the child benefits scandal. This will have repercussions on higher education because all kinds of draft legislation will be put on the shelf. What, for example, will happen to lotteries for popular study programmes?

Rapid testing for coronavirus to be trialled in higher education

NETHERLANDS. The lockdown will last at least three more weeks. The Ministry of Education wants to roll out rapid testing of students in a number of cities as part of a trial to see whether in-class teaching will be possible in the near future. Groningen will get the ball rolling next week.
“When I’m on the phone with a friend, we talk about anything but COVID”

“When I’m on the phone with a friend, we talk about anything but COVID”

“When was the last time you went outside?” When her mother asked her this, first-year student of Psychology Maike Prenzyna was surprised to realise it had been two weeks. “Weekdays, weekend days, mornings, afternoons, evenings – everything feels the same. I go to sleep when it’s dark outside, but that’s about it....
“Research is a struggle that doesn’t always end well”

“Research is a struggle that doesn’t always end well”

Chic conferences, polished presentations and glossy journals. The scientific world seems like one big success story. ‘Seems’, because reality, of course, is different. In this series, Observant will look for the mistakes, the setbacks, the slip-ups, the unexpected turns. Because those too, or maybe even especially, are science...
Students create sustainability guide for Maastricht

Students create sustainability guide for Maastricht

MAASTRICHT. Students from Maastricht for Climate have set up a website that guides readers through a more sustainable life. From general information – what can people do against climate change – to specific tips, such as where to buy sustainable clothing in Maastricht. The website will be launched on Monday, 18 January and will be both ...
Universities lower the standard for BSA

Universities lower the standard for BSA

NETHERLANDS/MAASTRICHT. In view of the corona crisis and the recently extended lockdown, the 14 Dutch universities, including Maastricht University, are nevertheless lowering the standard for binding study recommendations (BSA) by 10 to 15 percent this academic year.
Extended lockdown: education period 4 online, dies celebration adjusted

Extended lockdown: education period 4 online, dies celebration adjusted

MAASTRICHT. Since the Netherlands will stay in lockdown until at least 9 February, Maastricht University has decided that education will continue to take place online in period 4. The program for the Dies Natalis - the 45th anniversary of Maastricht University - has been thoroughly stripped down.
Literature discussions on twitter

Literature discussions on twitter

​Bart Penders, Associate Professor of Metamedica at the Faculty of Health Medicine and Life Sciences (FHML), misses the informal chats at work, with colleagues, but also with students. About how things are going, but also about professional literature. But this period also has positive aspects. Penders spends more time with his daughters (8 and 6 y...

Student representatives call on universities for leniency in BSAs

THE NETHERLANDS/MAASTRICHT. First year students are already under enough pressure. Don’t leave them out in the cold: lower the threshold for issuing binding study recommendations (BSA) to students who are not on course to pass first year. That’s the message sent by student representatives of eleven universities to their executive boards...
Packing for Madrid

Packing for Madrid

The attentive reader might remember that I, foolishly or bravely, have decided to go on a semester abroad in less than three weeks to Madrid, Spain. The preparations have been wonderful. To be fair, that's largely because I have yet to do the heavy lifting, literally, and most of my preparation until now consisted of watching youtube videos and...

No new vice rector of education

MAASTRICHT. The post of vice rector of education will not be filled again, says rector Rianne Letschert. Vice rector Harm Hospers retired on 1 January 2021.
"When I study in my room all day, I go crazy"

"When I study in my room all day, I go crazy"

MAASTRICHT. It is Tuesday, January 12, around one o'clock. Location: the entrance to the university library in the city center. The German Lennart Buggert, pre-master student of European Studies on Society, Science and Technology, is very focused at his phone. “I have my social media moment,” he laughs. "It’s not fixed in...
InSciTe helps researchers convert their findings into a product

InSciTe helps researchers convert their findings into a product

How do you solve the shortage of cornea donors? How do you develop material for implants that the body will not reject? Five years ago, Maastricht University and four other parties founded the knowledge institute Chemelot InSciTe (Institute for Science and Technology). Exactly one year ago, the institute moved to Maastricht, close to MUMC+ and the ...
"Everyone listens to my dad, not because we're afraid of him, but out of respect"

"Everyone listens to my dad, not because we're afraid of him, but out of respect"

Towards the end of the interview, first-year student of Health Sciences Hadeel (pronounced “Adele”) Khawatmy casually reveals that she studies seven (!) days per week. “I get eight hours of sleep, I see my family when we eat, and I spend the rest of the time studying.” This includes evenings and weekends. She doesn’t ...
Is that hope?

Is that hope?

The nightmare called 2020 is over and we survived. What a year! I don't know about you, but I think the two things I talked and thought about the most in the past year are Trump and COVID-19. No day passed without me glued to my news app anxiously looking for the next headline, the next crazy Trump tweet or new corona numbers. 2021 seemed...

First steps towards new participation bodies

THE NETHERLANDS. The Dutch House of Representatives wants to see new regulations for participation bodies at institutes of higher education. Researchers, students and unions are taking advantage of this opportunity to submit their own proposals.
High-tech artificial bone with stem cells prevents leg amputation

High-tech artificial bone with stem cells prevents leg amputation

An amputation is no longer the only remedy in some extremely complicated broken bones. For the first time in the Netherlands, researchers and surgeons from Maastricht have provided a patient with a printed implant together with his own stem cells. The patient is already up and about again, walking without the use of crutches.

Only a handful of students on campus

MAASTRICHT. No tutorials, no lectures, no crowds in the corridors or in the mensa. It is quiet in the university buildings. Employees must work from home as much as possible, students have no access to the buildings. Although there are exceptions to the last rule.

International student with technology or IT aspirations? Welcome to the Netherlands!

THE NETHERLANDS. The Dutch government wants to recruit students from all over the world to come to the Netherlands to study technology and IT, two sectors plagued by shortages of skilled workers.
A talented improviser who kept spirits up during COVID-19

A talented improviser who kept spirits up during COVID-19

MAASTRICHT. No, she doesn’t make the exams herself and she doesn’t transport the piles of paper to the MECC either, but for everything else that has to do with exams in one of the large halls, you need to speak to Anja Ronken. She is the central exams co-ordinator at Maastricht University and obviously she does that so well that it earn...
“If I panic, things definitely won’t get done”

“If I panic, things definitely won’t get done”

When the lockdown was announced halfway through March 2020 because of COVID-19, it wasn’t just education that went online, from one day to the next, but also the exams. Tineke de Beaumont, functional manager of digital exams at Maastricht University, really had to pull out all the stops. She did that so well that she can now pick up one of th...

Dreaming of 2021

Dreaming of 2021

It's the magic of all new years to create an atmosphere of hope and ambition. A belief that everything will change for the better, that to-do lists will finally be finished and that dreams will come true. 2021 specifically is promising more than any year before it. And so I lie in bed, hitting the snooze button again and again just to hold on a...

Martin Paul on the end of the Erasmus grant by the UK: “a great loss”

Martin Paul on the end of the Erasmus grant by the UK: “a great loss”

MAASTRICHT. The British are quitting the Erasmus + exchange programme. “A peculiar step,” says Martin Paul, President of Maastricht University. A step that he - just like his colleagues at British universities - did not see coming. There is a leniency regulation for students who had already arranged their exchange to the country before ...

Brexit deal: yes to European research but no more Erasmus scholarships for British students

EUROPE/UK. The European Union and the United Kingdom struck an eleventh-hour Brexit deal at the end of December. The Brits will continue to contribute to the European research budget but are pulling out of the Erasmus+ exchange programme.

Diversity at the university: “Without hard data we'll never get there”

THE NETHERLANDS. "More diversity?” In academic circles this phrase often still means “more women”, says Saskia Bonjour, political scientist and member of The Young Academy. Too little is being done for other target groups.
Tijden

Tijden

At first, it looked like a cyberattack against UM would give 2020 its basic disastrous shape. For most of the world, the coronavirus served that purpose. Yet for me and my colleagues at IDS (Institute for Data Science), the year was colored by a tragedy of our own.  During the fall of 2019, I worked on a grant with a postdoctoral researcher...

“I enjoy being alone more than I thought I would”

“I enjoy being alone more than I thought I would”

What do you do when a student mutes your voice in order to listen to music? “Remain empathic and calm,” says Eline Schmeets, PhD researcher at Maastricht working on Europe and lecturer at University College Maastricht. Online education has its own set of challenges. Still, she likes working from home. “A more pleasant, gentler rhy...
RIVM director Jaap van Dissel to receive honorary doctorate from UM

RIVM director Jaap van Dissel to receive honorary doctorate from UM

MAASTRICHT. Jaap van Dissel, director of the Netherlands National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) and professor of internal medicine at Leiden University, will receive an honorary doctorate from Maastricht University during the Dies celebrations on Friday 29 January. The doctorate is being awarded because ...