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Entries for February 2021

No relaxation of the restrictions just yet, but higher education is allowed to ‘prepare’

THE NETHERLANDS. As was feared, teaching at universities and universities of applied sciences will have to continue largely online for the time being. However, evening practical classes are permitted again, and the higher education sector has been given the green light by the government to ‘prepare’ itself to reopen.
Tricks used by Hackers are becoming increasingly cunning

Tricks used by Hackers are becoming increasingly cunning

Privacy and cybersecurity training for Maastricht University employees; courses for all students as part of the curriculum. Preferably today rather than tomorrow, Bart van den Heuvel, responsible for data security policies, apparently wants to say in an online round-table discussion by the Maastricht Law & Tech Lab.

Few students in Guesthouse isolation and quarantine wing

MAASTRICHT. Up until now, hardly any use has been made of the special isolation and quarantine rooms at the Guesthouse on the Brouwersweg. There were only two students living there who have tested positive. Approximately fifteen students have voluntarily spent ten days in quarantine, says Roel van der Nat, team leader at the Guesthouse. 
No more e-mails and WhatsApp messages at the weekend

No more e-mails and WhatsApp messages at the weekend

MAASTRICHT. No text messages and e-mails in the evenings and at the weekend. To lower work pressure Maastricht University (UM) wants to create more restful and recovery moments. It is also considering a shorter academic year and fewer exams.
“Just being able to see each other physically makes a world of difference”

“Just being able to see each other physically makes a world of difference”

MAASTRICHT. Social contact, some more social contact and preferably a little social contact. There is a great need for this among Maastricht students. Any other conclusion was impossible last carnival Friday. Rector Rianne Letschert had a discussion with the chairpersons of a number of study and student associations as well as a few University Coun...
All Saurus boats back on the water on 3 March

All Saurus boats back on the water on 3 March

MAASTRICHT. All boats of the student rowing association Saurus can get back on the water on March 3rd. Finally, sighs chairman Karel van Melle, “it seems an eternity ago that we could row unimpeded”.

UvA and HvA hackers have not yet demanded ransom money

THE NETHERLANDS. Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (HvA) and the University of Amsterdam (UvA) have been victim to a cyber attack since last week, but thanks to security measures already in place, the damage appears to be limited. This attack is not related to the recent hack of the Dutch Research Council (NWO).
The White Bus on Sol

The White Bus on Sol

"I donated blood in the Netherlands and now I live here." With this sophisticated sentence, spoken in Spanish, I approached a big white bus parked in the middle of one of the main squares of Madrid (and one of my favourites), Puerta del Sol (or 'Sol' like most people call it). I don't know whether it was the catchphrase printe...

From crisis to crisis: “We already clicked, but this year has made the bond even stronger”

From crisis to crisis: “We already clicked, but this year has made the bond even stronger”

“The Magnificent Seven, it seemed like a good name for us, if it weren’t for the fact that there were six of us,” Roel Gilissen grins, referring to an American western from 1960 (and 2016). “But dream team is also a good one.” But who is actually the captain of the ship, he wonders aloud? There is a lot of laughing and...

KNAW stands up for academic freedom

THE NETHERLANDS. The fierce battle for research funds is having an impact on academic freedom, argues Dutch science association KNAW. Researchers are increasingly being constrained by a spectrum of requirements and conditions.
In two minds: stay or go back to Moldova?

In two minds: stay or go back to Moldova?

She does the same things every morning: she has a cup of coffee, does her skincare routine, and meditates. This positive way to start the day is helping first-year student of Global Studies Alina Timosenco through the lockdown. Timosenco, who is from Moldova, is facing a dilemma. Will she stay in Maastricht or return to her native country? “S...
Starting today: sixty extra study places at Tapijn

Starting today: sixty extra study places at Tapijn

MAASTRICHT. From today, Monday 22 February, vulnerable students can also study in Loods V at Tapijn. There is space for a maximum of sixty students. Study places may also become available at other locations of the university library soon.
“I haven’t settled in completely yet, but not because of COVID-19”

“I haven’t settled in completely yet, but not because of COVID-19”

​After 35 years of being a secretary, Nanny Bakker felt it was time for a change. She switched jobs within the university library but now she has to share the ‘office’ with her husband at home. Well, you know, COVID-19. “I tend to get involved in his telephone calls.”

Coronavirus compensation: 50 percent tuition fee reduction and relief for junior researchers

THE NETHERLANDS. Students enrolled in study programmes in the past year will receive a 50 percent reduction in tuition fees for the upcoming academic year as compensation for coronavirus disruptions. The contracts of academic researchers will also be extended, and higher education will receive compensation for skyrocketing student numbers. Student ...
Setback after setback, but it’s all part of the process

Setback after setback, but it’s all part of the process

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 sc...

Carnival break

Due to the carnival break, the editorial office of Observant is closed until Monday 22 February.

Education for at least three faculties will remain online until summer

Education for at least three faculties will remain online until summer

MAASTRICHT. At the moment, practically all education is online, and that will remain the case for the rest of the academic year for three of the six faculties: Law, FASoS and FHML. The other three - if COVID-19 regulations allow – will switch to hybrid education in period five.
René Gabriels: “I carry a naked little doll around with me. It is Martin Paul”

René Gabriels: “I carry a naked little doll around with me. It is Martin Paul”

The crates of corona beer are at the ready, the chest with carnival costumes has been retrieved from the attic. The wait is now on for the schedule that will determine who will visit who and on which day. 
“The biggest problem during carnival is confetti in your beer”

“The biggest problem during carnival is confetti in your beer”

Once in his life, Jan Haverman, second-year student of European Studies, went skiing at carnival. “My family and friends never forgave me for that,” he laughs. “They still comment on that, even now.” Normally, Haverman starts carnival on Thursday and has his last beer on Tuesday.
High blood pressure: three billion 'patients' but little is known about the causes

High blood pressure: three billion 'patients' but little is known about the causes

​High blood pressure is an unseen killer that paves the way to practically all cardiovascular diseases. Yet, very little is known about the cause. Since recently, Maastricht University and MUMC have been carrying out international research with fourteen other centres.
Singing schmalzy pop songs, but not this year

Singing schmalzy pop songs, but not this year

For schmalzy pop singer (and department secretary) Eveline Horsch, carnival should be the busiest time of the year with two or three performances a day. Unfortunately, COVID-19 threw a spanner in the works. Horsch, carnival celebrant in heart and soul, certainly misses the party hubbub, but the citizen of Kerkrade is not gloomy. This should not bec...
The Madrid Erasmus Experience

The Madrid Erasmus Experience

It's always exciting to move into a new room (especially as a student). Who will you live with? What will they be like? Will you fit in? I asked myself the same questions as I moved to Madrid for my semester abroad here. But even in my wildest dreams, I never imagined how I was greeted. This was, namely, with a simple "Salut! Ça va?" ...

€40 per month working-from-home compensation

MAASTRICHT. All Maastricht University employees will receive a working-from-home compensation of €40 net per month until June 2021. This includes €30 for Internet expenses and €10 for the so-called ‘free space working expenses regulation’. The compensation paid by the UM is higher than the €25 that Dutch universities...

Selection for Medicine completely online

MAASTRICHT. Anyone who wants to start the study programme of Medicine in Maastricht in September 2021, will have to do the selection procedure completely online, writes Mirjam Oude Egbrink, scientific director of the Education Institute, in a letter to the faculty council of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences.

Unanimous support for ‘tuition-free’ extra year for students with delays: what now?

THE NETHERLANDS. Many students are falling behind in their studies due to the coronavirus crisis. The House of Representatives has just adopted a motion allowing them to enrol in an extra year of university free of charge. But it is too early to celebrate.

UM receives award for sharing cyberattack experiences

MAASTRICHT. Maastricht University has won the SURF Security and Privacy Award for the way in which it shared its cyberattack experiences with the public. The prize money of 2,500 euro must be used by the winner to further improve safety and privacy.
“The students at Bogazici University will resist Erdogan”

“The students at Bogazici University will resist Erdogan”

Students at Bogazici University in Istanbul are hitting the streets these days to protest against Turkish president Erdogan putting a political ally in place as rector magnificus. In better days, assistant professor at SBE Burak Can studied at Bogazici. This personal opinion article reflects his optimism about the outcome of the conflict....
“Having my own studio apartment is OK, but I prefer being around other people”

“Having my own studio apartment is OK, but I prefer being around other people”

Giovanni Bava can tell that he has grown a lot in the six months that he has been here. His English has improved a lot and he is more disciplined than he thought he was. But not everything is going smoothly: he is having difficulty concentrating. He has already contacted the student psychologists at Maastricht University about it.
To scream, or not to scream?

To scream, or not to scream?

The past weeks my two year-old son has had a nasty cold, which resulted in many sleepless nights—for all of us. One evening, I was trying to help him fall asleep. Nothing I did was working, and he was exhausted. I, too, felt exhausted. I also felt frustrated. Not at my son per se. No, it was a more overarching frustration about the lack of co...

This is how your basic grant died

This is how your basic grant died

These days it is nothing out of the ordinary for students to accumulate large debts. For almost 30 years preceding 2015, this was different. In 2015, the Dutch government put an end to the largely disliked basic grant. A story about hard cutbacks and wondrous promises. “The situation completely exploded that evening.”
Study put on hold after bankruptcy mental healthcare facility

Study put on hold after bankruptcy mental healthcare facility

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...

Minister Van Engelshoven wants to accommodate delayed students

THE NETHERLANDS. Students who are delayed due to the corona crisis do not have to pay the bill themselves, now also says outgoing minister Van Engelshoven. But not all of them need a full extension year as far as she is concerned.
Struggle for academic freedom flares up in Turkey

Struggle for academic freedom flares up in Turkey

TURKEY. On Monday night, 159 students were taken into custody in Istanbul in protests against the new rector of Bogazici University. The students see his appointment as President Erdogan's latest attempt to restrict academic freedom in Turkey.
Madrid, in a pandemic?

Madrid, in a pandemic?

'Have you had Corona yet?', my housemate's friend's friend asked me as we were sitting in a bar, 'No? Oh, don't worry, you'll get it soon.' As if I was ever worried about not getting Covid. I'm now overwhelmed with an alternate universe in which Corona doesn't seem to exist, or at least doesn't seem to...

Preparing meatballs during Zoom

Preparing meatballs during Zoom

She still has residual symptoms from Covid-19, which struck her in autumn. Coughing, short of breath. Yes, she is also fatigued, “but is that because of the virus? Who isn’t tired?”, Sarah Stutterheim, assistant professor at the Faculty of Psychology and Neurosciences winks. She is an optimist. “I look for as many silver lin...
Professors and students send an open letter to the Executive Board about sustainability

Professors and students send an open letter to the Executive Board about sustainability

MAASTRICHT. Maastricht University must develop a concrete strategy, if it wants to be a sustainable university in 2030. This is stated in an open letter to the Executive Board, written by students from the KAN Party, lecturer John Harbord and professors Roberta Haar and Pim Martens. They invite the rest of the UM community to also sign the letter. ...

Senators put law against Anglicisation in the deep freeze

THE NETHERLANDS. Proposed legislation against the Anglicisation of higher education (Language and Accessibility) has encountered a delay. The Dutch Senate only wants to discuss it when a new government has been installed.
UM Sports is also taking up the 100 kilometre-challenge

UM Sports is also taking up the 100 kilometre-challenge

MAASTRICHT. Walking or jogging 100 kilometres in the month of February. That is the challenge that UM Sports is putting to the university community. Participants can register their kilometres via the Strava app.
Response to debate about what it means to be a scientist

Response to debate about what it means to be a scientist

Last week, two opposing opinion articles started a debate about what it means to be a scientist. A few staff members of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASoS) put together a short response. 
Entitled Students and Teachers Who Don't Care

Entitled Students and Teachers Who Don't Care

I sometimes find myself caught in the middle of two feuding fractions: students and teachers. There has always been some disconnect between the two sides and perhaps you can empathize with one of them. From the students’ perspective, some teachers just don’t care. They don’t answer emails, don’t offer proper guidance, and de...

"Staying inside all the time makes me feel trapped"

"Staying inside all the time makes me feel trapped"

Meghan Callender, first-year student of Global Studies, is trying to make the best of the current situation. She goes outside as much as possible and regularly meets up with a friend who lives next door. Eating dinner together ­– even just virtually, over FaceTime with her boyfriend in Groningen ­­– is very important to her....

Lockdown until March 2, no decision on period 5 yet

THE NETHERLANDS / MAASTRICHT. The lockdown in the Netherlands will be extended until at least 2 March. Prime Minister Rutte announced this last night. Primary schools and childcare will open again from 8 February and products ordered from shops can be picked up from that moment. The universities will therefore remain virtually closed, except for...

“Observant, don’t give the stage to that man”

“Observant, don’t give the stage to that man”

It all started a couple of weeks ago with a heated discussion between a Maastricht PhD candidate and a UM professor on LinkedIn. The subject: when may you call yourself a real scientist? If you spend 24 hours a day, seven days a week working in your field and already have a considerable number of publications to your name? The view of professor Har...

Possibly another one-off working-from-home compensation

MAASTRICHT. There will most likely be clarity about the second one-off working-from-home compensation this month, said vice president of the Executive Board Nick Bos when asked. This will not be a regulation that makes it possible to claim the cost of a babysitter at home, as the University of Amsterdam created.
How the hundreds of millions of euros from the basic student grant nationwide evaporated within five years

How the hundreds of millions of euros from the basic student grant nationwide evaporated within five years

The hundreds of millions that the abolition of the basic student grant would generate each year was to be used in full to improve education. That was the promise made by Minister Bussemaker back in 2015. However, due to shady promises, rising student numbers and a fainthearted minister, it remains to be seen whether students will actually ever rece...

Discussion at FPN about pass/fail assessment

MAASTRICHT. Not marking student exams with a grade, but just giving a pass or a fail: what are the advantages and disadvantages? This was discussed in the Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience’s latest faculty council meeting.
UM’s 45th anniversary: empathic speech by rector in an empty St. Jan

UM’s 45th anniversary: empathic speech by rector in an empty St. Jan

MAASTRICHT. ​A great deal of understanding for the difficult circumstances in which staff and students have found themselves for some time now. At the same time, a lot of praise for what has been achieved this past year, despite – or maybe because – of COVID-19. Rector Rianne Letschert held an empathic speech in celebration of the 45th&...

Brexit: MEPs want Erasmus grants for Scotland and Wales after all

EUROPE/THE NETHERLANDS. Could it be possible to allow students from Scotland and Wales to still take part in the Erasmus+ exchange programme – despite Brexit? That’s the question 145 Members of the European Parliament put to the European Commission in a recent letter.
“Research must result in something interesting one way or another”

“Research must result in something interesting one way or another”

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...