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Entries for March 2012

Advanced hindsight

My favourite academic this week is Dan Ariely, an Israeli-American professor of Behavioural Economics. He gave people a series of simple maths problems and said he would pay a dollar per correct answer. The result? People cheat more if they see someone else cheating whom they identify with. And they cheat twice as much when rewarded with a token th...


I would like to react to the column of "Albert Bergbroeder" concerning his view on MaasAction. He presents his very passionate point of view regarding the anonymity of this particular group, MaasAction. He considers them a "zooitje digitale bivakmutsen" as they do not make their name(s) public. Hereby I would like to ask him whether it is not extre...

Language Policy at UM

When Dutch students in my tutor groups suggest that international students should better integrate and learn the local language, I always ask them whether they would consider taking a course in German as well. After all, German is the language of the majority of our European Studies students and is pretty useful these days in business and politics....

More Dutch students go to Belgium

The number of Dutch students studying in Belgium on a student grant, has increased by 7 per cent, to 4,620. This new figure was published in de Volkskrant this week.

A Dutch or international university?

Let students focus on improving their English in stead of forcing them to learn Dutch, and give staff the opportunity, not the assignment, to learn Dutch, says Kevin Hol, chairman of student party Dope.

Stapelgate: fake data in twelve articles and three dissertations

At least twelve articles and three dissertations with which former professor Diederik Stapel was involved, turn out to have been based on fake data. This is one of the initial results published by the Levelt committee, working for Tilburg University.
The fat greasy food from Wendy's

The fat greasy food from Wendy's

Jonathan Alexander, 23, from Phoenix, Arizona, USA, student of the Research Master in European Studies

No coffee, no films, more contemplation

No sweets, no alcohol, no Facebook. The forty days of Lent before Easter, are traditionally a time of fasting, but is there anyone who takes fasting serious in 2012? Students from Tafelstraat 13 exercise restraint during these weeks.
“Stop glorifying suicide bombers!”

“Stop glorifying suicide bombers!”

When an Israeli and a Palestinian take part in a debate, especially when they both are the highest representatives of their country, the atmosphere is always loaded. As was the case at the second ambassador’s debate organised by Studium Generale and the Arab World Office (UM) on Tuesday night. The Minderbroedersberg Aula is packed with mainly forei...

1.750 euros for Ronald McDonald

Last week, eightteen American postgraduate students collected an amount of 1.750 euros for the Ronald McDonald House in Maastricht. The students, who came from Missouri, participated in a customised education programme (European Management Residency) created by the Maastricht Centre for Entrepreneurship, the Centre for European Studies and Postgrad...

“I never felt excluded”

“I never experienced difficulties making friends of all nationalities here. I think the university is a really international environment”, says Zhen Wang, a Chinese master’s student in Econometrics and Operations Management, thus rejecting the claim that students who are neither Dutch nor German fall between the cracks of the different groups. “In ...

Taste of Spring, Isbells and Comedy Night

Taste of Spring DJs Jochem (At the Villa), Flash (Solar, Castle of Love, Groove-A-licious) and Franco La Cara (High Heels) will kick off the Easter long weekend on Saturday 7 April at Taste of Spring. The profits from this festival, now being held for the fifth time, will go to charity. The event will take place in the Ipanema, the bar next to the...

Stricter rules for foreign student grants

Foreign students in the Netherlands will have to work longer as of next academic year if they want to receive student financing. European students in the Netherlands are currently entitled to student financing if they work at least eight hours a week. State secretary Zijlstra wants to increase this number to fourteen hours.

UM students: don’t stay in your ivory tower!

UM students, especially international education migrants, should show more interest in Dutch higher education politics, as it is not only a matter of integration, but also directly affects all of us. So don’t stay in your ivory tower, argues Tobias Bünder, University Council Student Representative, NovUM Faction.

Silent disco, BIP2012 and Gare du Nord

Silent disco The exhibition Silent Disco will open on Sunday 25 March at 15.00 in ‘t Brandweer, the exhibition hall at the Capucijnenstraat 21. With nothing more than a Bic pen, the artist Esther de Bont has made huge drawings of figures that seem to move through the room. The exhibition will be open until 29 April. For opening times, please check...

FASoS student garden

Students of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences will be able to use the area around the common room as a model garden, to grow different types of herbs. This was decided during the latest meeting of the Faculty Council. 

UM Summer School to start in July

Maastricht University is starting a Summer School in July 2012. These two-weekly courses are primarily aimed at second- and third-year bachelors – both from the Netherlands and abroad – who want to broaden their academic knowledge, but at the same time want to have fun.

“Persistent stereotypes”

“I came here with the idea that I would acquire a large circle of German and Dutch friends,” says Dutch-German psychology student Lavinia Thelen. To immediately add: “That did not happen.” According to her, this has more to do with cultural differences than with the language barrier. “Of course it is easier to talk in your own language. I notice th...

68 districts, one love

68 districts, one love

Valentin Ciocan, 23, from Cologne, Germany, student of International Business

New pop stage plan

It looks like Maastricht will finally have a pop stage. The mayor and councillors have suggested that the Maastricht Music Hall (MMH, at the Griend near the Maas) be turned into a pop stage, and rooms at Kumulus (in Wyck) be used for recording and practising music. The discussion about a pop stage in Maastricht has been going on for years. One sta...

Everyone must learn Dutch

In due course, all Maastricht University employees will have to be proficient in both Dutch and English; newly appointed staff should even be so before they start their jobs. This is what rector Gerard Mols said to a committee of the university council last week. Foreign students will also be expected to learn Dutch.
“Our confidence in The Netherlands has been harmed”

“Our confidence in The Netherlands has been harmed”

A few hours after the European Parliament had officially condemned the anti-Eastern-European website of the PVV party as ‘discriminatory and malicious’ and urged Prime Minister Rutte to distance his cabinet from the PVV initiative, 150 UM-students were ready to debate with four Eastern-European ambassadors on labour mobility. The debate took place ...

Bad physics jokes

An atom walks into a bar and says to the barman, “I’ve lost my electron.” “Are you sure?” says the barman. The atom replies: “Yes, I’m positive.” It’s bad physics jokes like this that keep me going when my PhD feels like it’s sunk into, er, a black hole. And they get worse: Schrödinger’s cat walks into a bar. And doesn’t. Said to be true (though ve...

More and better UM jobs for students

More, but also better jobs for students within Maastricht University, is what UCM student Tobias Bünder, member of the university council for Novum, is advocating.

Language proficiency must be improved at the UM

Students who speak three languages, bilingual members of staff held accountable for their linguistic skills: a new note on language policy at Maastricht University sets high objectives.

FASoS lecturers set alarm bells ringing

Better supervision, more time for research, more hours for teaching. The present ‘lecturers 3’  at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences have insufficient opportunities to improve their career perspectives. This is what two of them wrote in a letter to the faculty council. Measures will be taken, says dean Rein de Wilde. “But we can’t print ...

SBE wins in Montréal

Two weeks ago, students from the School of Business and Economics won the ‘international case competition’ in Montréal. It is SBE’s fourth victory – after Bangkok, Copenhagen and Singapore. In a case competition, student teams have to solve a real-life business problem and prepare a presentation on the solution while being locked in a hotel room fo...

"Many Germans do not take part in Inkom”

“At the School of Business and Economics’ open day, the international environment was strongly promoted. You will be in a classroom with people from all corners of the world, we were told. Also that half the students would be from Germany. That is not completely true because in reality almost everyone is German at International Business. At least 7...

The stupid are so confident

After ‘Super Tuesday’ in the US last week, it looks likely that Mitt Romney will bring home the Republican nomination. It hasn’t been an easy race. Critics were quick to jump on Romney’s casual mention of the ‘couple of Cadillacs’ his wife owns; not something that will endear you to a country still deep in economic crisis. Still, all he had to do w...

Karma Police, St Patrick's Day and Het Geluid

Karma Police Indie pop band Karma Police will release their first album at the Muziekgieterij on Friday, 16 March. This young band recently won the Kunstbende in Belgium Limburg (an annual contest for young artists) and will go to the final in Gent in May. According to the jury, they play “catchy songs, that’ll stay in your head for a long time”. ...

Foreign students have more stress

Foreign students have more stress

43 per cent of all Maastricht students at times experience so much study stress that their private lives suffer. This figure is slightly above the national average of 40 per cent. It is one of the outcomes of a national survey held by newspapers of schools of higher education and universities, including Observant. A total of 5,497 students complete...

De-stressing in the lotus pose

All that stress! It's high time to relax a little. Observant wanted to find out whether yoga was the answer.
Crisis is forerunner of total collapse

Crisis is forerunner of total collapse

Is capitalism doomed to collapse? That was the leading question during the talk show with the anthropologist Paul Jorion last Wednesday, organised by Studium Generale. The auditorium on the Minderbroedersberg was quite full, mostly with students. Interviewer Joan Muysken, UM professor of macroeconomics, wants to know immediately. Is there going to ...

“It is all about the size of the portion”

Red wine, chocolate, coffee, blueberries, garlic, omega-3 fatty acids. Healthy or not? Say if you know. Headlines in newspapers but also scientific publications are constantly contradicting each other. Observant decided to make some phone calls.

Noble ambition

So Maastricht wants to be named European Capital of Culture 2018. A noble ambition, which puts us in the league of such esteemed former winners as Turku, the official ‘Christmas city’ of Finland, and Bruges, whose claim to fame remains a fleeting visit by the spunky Irish actor Colin Farrell. Not to mention Linz, once home to the mathematician Joha...

During Tefaf, Holy Cheese and Project Exit

During Tefaf Friday 16 March will see the start of the 25th edition of The European Fine Art Fair (Tefaf). Although the art might be a bit over a student’s budget, there’s still a lot to enjoy at the fair’s side programme During Tefaf, which will start on Tuesday 13 March. There’ll be jazz music, ballet, lectures, exhibitions and theatre performan...

UM helps with tuition fees

Nothing will change this year with regard to the instalment payments of tuition fees: students are expected to transfer an amount eight times a year, instead of the twelve monthly payments requested by the students in the university council.

Misbehaviour? Inform the home university

Serious misbehaviour by exchange students will no longer be tolerated by Maastricht University. The Executive Board has decided to evict troublemakers from the Guesthouse and to inform the home university from now on.
"In Israel there’s a great sense of feeling alive"

"In Israel there’s a great sense of feeling alive"

Shay Koren, 22, from Sydney, Australia, double major in psychology and sustainability, exchange student at UCM  
“In class we would never speak German”

“In class we would never speak German”

Annika Lübbert, now a third-year University College student from Germany, came to Maastricht for a bachelor’s in European Studies (ES) in 2009. She soon discovered that ES was a bit “too dry” for her. “For me it was hard to decide what to choose after high school. I liked maths and chemistry, and was also interested in society and culture.” She ma...

“The municipality would rather have students underground”

“The municipality would rather have students underground”

Cars with German registration plates taking up parking places for days on end? Garbage bags put by the roadside days before they are collected, drunkenness, bicycles parked everywhere except in the appointed racks? The familiar themes are not the discussion points during the Lower House debate on students and the city that Observant organised in a ...

More first-year medical students

From now on universities may select all their medical students themselves. Maastricht University, however, will not do so for the time being. Just like last year, the UM will select no more than 50 per cent in Spring, when selections are made.
“We have to de-mask the lies”

“We have to de-mask the lies”

“My mother had to sit with both hands on her desk in primary school. When I was at school we had to wait in the courtyard, standing in a row, before we could go – in complete silence – to our classes. We call it disciplining: it’s a subtle, ongoing process, a machinery, to create, in the end, more productive people. People who comply with the stand...
"We did everything together"

"We did everything together"

Ruoxin Hao, 21, born in Sichuan, China, master’s student of International Business
“Let's cut the circular argumentation”

“Let's cut the circular argumentation”

“It would be a huge step forward if all the administrative bodies of the faculties were in English as far as possible”, German Tom Dopstadt thinks. “Of course Maastricht University has a Dutch identity, but there should be a balance. There are a lot more international students than ten or fifteen years ago.”

Golden showers

I’m looking for the Yeti. Well, not literally. I’m looking, in my PhD, for a ‘Dutch English’, a legitimate variety of English like, say, Australian or Indian English. Like the Yeti, it’s something we’ve all heard of, but no-one’s ever seen. While it’s easy to make a theoretical case for Dutch English, actually pinpointing this mythical dialect is m...

Wherever we go, Nightscape sessions and Charity Ball

Wherever we go Young Norwegian theatre producer and Top Naeff award winner Øystein Johansen has delivered his first piece at the Huis van Bourgondië. In Wherever we go we meet three men who hide from the world and the end of everything. While they live in their isolated bubble, reality goes on. The first show will be held on Tuesday 6 March, follo...

Mix&Mingle Sports Night

The next Mix and Mingle will be a bit more active than students are used to. Mix and Mingle parties are organised every few months as a chance for international students to get together. This time, the event is being organised together with UM Sport. “It all started with an article in Observant about the International Classroom”, says Netty Bekkers...

Observant Lagerhuisdebat

‘After 35 years the student and the city are still with their backs turned to each other. A scandal!?’ This is one of the theorems which a panel of 35 people from Maastricht University and the city of Maastricht will debate on Monday March 5. Central theme: ‘The Maastricht student should be more involved in the city of Maastricht’. The debate will ...

Students’ orphaned metal steeds

Students’ orphaned metal steeds

UM has about one hundred bicycles removed every year