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Entries for April 2020

Prime Minister Rutte (briefly) joined a Maastricht tutorial group

Prime Minister Rutte (briefly) joined a Maastricht tutorial group

MAASTRICHT. And then suddenly, the Prime Minister of the Netherlands appears in the Zoom tutorial group meeting. That happened to the students at University College who were taking the Macrosociology block. What was that like? “Great!” “Quite an honour.” “That I get to experience that as a foreign student. I will never...

Youths protest against online proctoring

THE NETHERLANDS. Having your webcam on while you take an exam? Preferably not, say young politicians and students. They have serious objections against ‘online proctoring’ and demand an alternative.
Serbia’s Political Corona

Serbia’s Political Corona

“We are all in this together” – well, not really. The part “this” differs quite a lot depending on your luck and the place you live. Under the luck I consider the employment, possibility to work from home, housing, and mostly having all people you care about healthy and safe. Another important differentiating factor is...

Three women to lead FASoS

Three women to lead FASoS

MAASTRICHT. The new Faculty Board at Arts and Social Sciences (FASoS) consists completely of women. This has never happened before at Maastricht University. Moreover, all three have foreign nationalities.
“My hair has been all the colours of the rainbow”

“My hair has been all the colours of the rainbow”

Anna Krikun (21, Russian/Swedish), third-year student of Psychology, describes her style as  “minimalistic and romantic”.
“I can’t really get to know my students now”

“I can’t really get to know my students now”

Alexander Carlo teaches Financing Emerging Markets, a second-year course in the bachelor’s programme International Business, as well as Corporate Finance in the master’s programme. Things have been going well so far, he says, although it feels a bit odd to be talking to a screen all day. Some days, he teaches four Zoom tutorials a day. ...

The many shades of deconfinement

The many shades of deconfinement

In the following email exchange two sisters, who work in very different fields, reflect on how gradual deconfinement affects their work and lives. Christine Neuhold works on EU affairs at Maastricht University and lives in Brussels. Stephanie Neuhold is Head Doctor in charge of the ‘Covid 19 intensive care unit’ of a Viennese hospital. ...
Alternative Inkom: mainly digital

Alternative Inkom: mainly digital

MAASTRICHT. Two weeks ago, Maastricht University’s crisis management team decided that there would not be a normal Inkom this year. The decision was taken in consultation with the Working Group Inkom (WGI). “Initially, we were of course very disappointed,” says chairperson Milou Berdenis van Berlekom. But after a brief period of t...
“Online education is exhausting; sometimes I need a nap”

“Online education is exhausting; sometimes I need a nap”

Anja Dekanski works as a tutor at University College Maastricht. This block, she’s teaching a first-year course called Research Methods 2, as well as a course called Strategy & Negotiation for second- and third-year students. “Within a week of the university closing, the block coordinators and us tutors prepared everything to go onl...

Not many jobs for the ‘Job bank’

Not many jobs for the ‘Job bank’

MAASTRICHT. Some university employees have been extra busy since the corona crisis, others have had very little to do. Since the beginning of April, the UM departments with a lot of work can report to the so-called ‘Job bank’. An employee from another department, where there is less work, then takes over the job. Except not much use is ...
 1 Boeing 777 for 20 people

1 Boeing 777 for 20 people

Arriving at the airport in Singapore accompanied by 80s radio tunes was surreal, to say the least. I felt like the whole world except for me discovered how to teleport, making airports obsolete and leaving them deserted. Seeing another human being in the departure hall that is usually buzzing with people ready to see their loved ones, enjoy their h...

"I can't plan anything"

"I can't plan anything"

(Wo)man at work. That was the name of a series about students and the jobs they do, published last academic year. How are they doing during the corona crisis? Can they do anything for their employers or have they been sent home? Aside from the students in the series, we will also hear from others. This time: Emmy Maas, master’s student o...

University Council against FPN’s alternative plans for money for quality agreements

MAASTRICHT. May the Faculty of Psychology and Neurosciences adapt the quality agreements? Can the money that has been freed up with the abolishing of the basic grant be used differently than was previously agreed? The University Council does not think so.​
“French cyclist girl” found!

“French cyclist girl” found!

Last week, Observant ran a story about Hugo Engels, employee at the Language Centre, who was trying to find a French cyclist he’d met while he was out cycling on Easter Sunday. His search didn’t take long. Engels has found his missed connection! A brief recap of the story: Engels and the young woman talked for just a few minutes unti...

“This isn’t what I thought my last semester would be like”

“This isn’t what I thought my last semester would be like”

Nici Friedman, third-year student at University College Maastricht, still lives in her student house in Maastricht. She went to her parents for Eastern. But she couldn’t go home for a longer period of time even if she wanted to, she jokes. “I have a lot of plants that would probably die if I left. I stayed here because my parents live r...

"Do you accept privacy problems just because it works well?"

"Do you accept privacy problems just because it works well?"

MAASTRICHT. To Zoom has almost become synonymous to video calling. Maastricht University has recently taken out a licence for professional use of the video and meeting app. No worries, the institute said, with the necessary precautionary measures using it is safe. But is that the case? It is true that Zoom is a user-friendly app – t...

Dutch big five pension funds lose €77bn in Q1 as coronavirus hits markets

THE NETHERLANDS. Four of the five biggest Dutch pension schemes have been hard hit by coronavirus-related panic on the financial markets, and their coverage ratios have shrunk to around 85%, according to first quarter figures.
“Every morning between 5 and 7 a.m., I wrote two pages of my dissertation”

“Every morning between 5 and 7 a.m., I wrote two pages of my dissertation”

When he was in his first year at University College Maastricht, then twenty-year-old Jeroen Janssens dreamed big dreams. He wanted to be an astronaut. “Lots of freedom, far away from home. And it’ll make me famous, I’d love that.” After his time in space, he would retire to a farm. He never claimed to have green fingers, tho...
Countdown to Germany

Countdown to Germany

Friday the 10th of April, 7 am, Singapore. A small group of three headed over to the bus station, wearing face masks and desperately trying not to touch their faces that nowadays seem to start itching as soon as you set foot outside. Fifteen minutes later, the same group arrived in a part of town that they only rarely visit, a part where they stood...

Hospitals get ready to start treating non-coronavirus patients again

THE NETHERLANDS. Family doctors have made 360,000 fewer referrals to hospitals since the government first brought in measures to stem the spread of coronavirus on March 12, the national health council NZa said on Monday.
Words matter

Words matter

Many were quick to point out that ‘social distancing’ was a poor choice of words, including the President of our university. What we need in times of pandemic is ‘physical distancing’ accompanied by social solidarity. I have seen the latter cleverly described as viral solidarity. This is a nice play on solidarity during the ...

“I feel like Alice in Wonderland”

“I feel like Alice in Wonderland”

The right man in the right place. This would be an accurate description of Professor Stefan Hild, who is currently working to get ETpathfinder – a testing facility for the Einstein Telescope – off the ground. Hild’s entire career has been devoted to gravitational waves, detecting signals in particular. “There is always the r...
Missed Connections: man looking for French woman on Bianchi bike

Missed Connections: man looking for French woman on Bianchi bike

Observant received quite an urgent email this week. Hugo Engels, employee at the Language Centre, is looking for a woman he met while cycling on Easter Sunday. The only thing he knows about her is that she works at Maastricht University. Observant doesn’t have a Missed Connections section, but we’re happy to make an exception. The hi...

First applications from students in financial difficulties being processed

MAASTRICHT. The first sixty applications by students in financial difficulties are being dealt with by the University Fund, SWOL. Two weeks ago, the fund started a crowdfunding venture for students who were skint because of the corona crisis. More than 34 thousand euro has been collected since then. A maximum of 1,500 euro is awarded per applicatio...
At one and a half metres from the nachos with cheese sauce

At one and a half metres from the nachos with cheese sauce

It doesn’t look like the cinemas will be reopening their doors any time soon, albeit that market leader Pathé has been working on a plan for ‘one-and-a-half-metre cinemas’. NRC published an article on the subject: only one quarter of the seats will be sold (online), employees will wear ‘attendance vests’ and ...

Gratitude in the Time of Corona

Gratitude in the Time of Corona

It might be a callous idea to suggest that we be more grateful during a worldwide pandemic, where people have lost loved ones or are suffering from illnesses themselves. When schools have gone online and daycares, like our borders, have closed. Where hanging out with friends have become a finable offense and the news – both true and fake &nda...

Job number one, two and three

Job number one, two and three

(Wo)man at work. That was the name of a series about students and the jobs they do, published last academic year. How are they doing during the corona crisis? Can they do anything for their employers or have they been sent home? Aside from the students in the series, we will also hear from others. This time: Roel Niemark, master’s studen...

Corona virus: majority of Summer School courses cancelled

MAASTRICHT. Most of the 55 courses offered by the Maastricht Summer School will not take place because of the corona crisis. A selection of eighteen that are also suitable for online distribution, will go ahead. That is to say, if there are sufficient enrolments.
Being a Future Graduate in Times of Corona

Being a Future Graduate in Times of Corona

Let’s go on a short time travel journey: the date is February 2020. A time when the Corona outbreak has not reached a global pandemic level yet. I am working slightly stressed but focused towards my master’s degree, screening the job market and sending the first applications for autumn 2020. “Getting there”, I am telling mys...

A lot of agitation about the corona crisis in the student fraction of the University Council

A lot of agitation about the corona crisis in the student fraction of the University Council

MAASTRICHT. Not in the usual small hall but online: last Wednesday (8 April), the University Council had a meeting via Zoom for the first time since the corona crisis. It was especially the student fraction that is worried about the impact.
"I find it such a pity that I can’t put some money aside"

"I find it such a pity that I can’t put some money aside"

(Wo)man at work. That was the name of a series about students and the jobs they do, published last academic year. How are they doing during the corona crisis? Can they do anything for their employers or have they been sent home? Aside from the students in the series, we will also hear from others. This time: Cyriel Huntjens, master’s student ...
Avoiding loneliness, even if it is at the expense of income

Avoiding loneliness, even if it is at the expense of income

(Wo)man at work. That was the name of a series about students and the jobs they do, published last academic year. How are they doing during this corona crisis? Can they do anything for their employers or have they been sent home? Aside from the students in the series, we will also hear from others. This time: Kristel Zaal, third-year...
On loss of smell, rehabilitation and poor predictions

On loss of smell, rehabilitation and poor predictions

Formulating research questions, obtaining funding, joining forces with other universities – before the coronavirus pandemic, these kinds of things took forever. Now, they seem to be achieved overnight. Studies related to COVID-19 and the novel coronavirus are springing up like mushrooms all over the world, although their quality som...

Number of students stranded abroad is decreasing

MAASTRICHT. Today (9 April) there are still 24 Maastricht students who are stranded abroad and want to return home. It concerns students who were on an exchange visit outside Europe. Last Wednesday, the number was 36 people.
Singapore in "Circuit Breaker mode"

Singapore in "Circuit Breaker mode"

Monday, the 6th of April - Orchard Road, Singapore It is 3 in the afternoon and Orchard Road is buzzing as if it were the weekend. Not unusual for the number 1 shopping street in Singapore, filled with stores ranging from Dior and Gucci over to H&M and Cotton On. Apart from the handful of people that seem to have ignored the news over the la...

Coronavirus is just the beginning

Coronavirus is just the beginning

The European Central Bank (ECB) is printing money like crazy in response to the coronavirus. It is creating up to €750 billion to purchase government bonds (to prevent indebted Eurozone states from going bankrupt) and up to €3 trillion to incentivise banks so they lend money to companies and maintain liquidity in the economy. This is arou...

“My faith gives me the feeling that everything is going to work out”

“My faith gives me the feeling that everything is going to work out”

Law student Leonie Frissen is one of the students who live in the building used by Lux ad Mosam, the Christian student association in Maastricht. Although many students have left the city, Frissen’s student house is still quite full. “Eleven people usually live here. There are eight of us here now.” Eight people sheltering in p...

UM psychologist: students can’t find us online

MAASTRICHT. The Maastricht University psychologists have noticed that it is tougher to reach students who are not actually present at the university. “They are receiving a lot of information, you can tell that they are focussing mainly on their education,” says team leader Mieke Jansen. The students that do come to us have remarkably fe...
Cleaning ambulances as a Red Cross volunteer

Cleaning ambulances as a Red Cross volunteer

Thierry Bleijswijk, master’s student of Public Policy and Human Development, has been a volunteer with the Netherlands Red Cross for four years. He usually works at music festival Pinkpop or André Rieu concerts, but he’s currently doing volunteer work at the hospital. “We support health care professionals in their work”, say...

“Luckily, I was able to work twice as much the month before lockdown”

“Luckily, I was able to work twice as much the month before lockdown”

Spring has come with the best and sunniest days in a while, yet we are still in quarantine, trying to slow down the spread of the virus. At the same time, restaurants and bars are still shut down and students still struggle to make ends meet. In this video we have Michael Keith, a third-year student of Arts and Culture at the Faculty of Arts a...
Exam only in June

Exam only in June

Second-year student of Psychology Victoria Ebert has “gone back to her childhood days”, she says via Skype, laughing. She has returned to her father’s vineyard house, where she lived until 2011. “After that, I went to school abroad and lived with my mother in Berlin.” Public life in Germany has been largely shut dow...

“You wouldn’t put a student from Vancouver in the morning group”

MAASTRICHT. The School of Business and Economics has adapted its schedules for 120 foreign students for period 5 (starting on April 14) in order to prevent those students from having to attend tutorial group meetings at ungodly hours. The students concerned are exchange students – from countries such as Australia or the  US – who l...
Post-Corona Mindset

Post-Corona Mindset

We’re all looking forward to the day that we don’t have to live in the constant fear of COVID-19 anymore. The day that our hearts don’t make a jump when our phones ring because we suspect that, in the end, someone we love did get infected with Corona. The day that we can do cartwheels in the local park again - something we didn&rs...

Changing role of student association: keeping in contact and boosting morale

Changing role of student association: keeping in contact and boosting morale

MAASTRICHT. Online drinks, answering pupils’ questions, and challenging each other through Instagram challenges: all activities having been cancelled, student associations are attempting to keep in contact with their members through all kinds of ways in order to keep spirits up. The reduced activity will have no influence on the boards’...
The first tutorial group starts at two-thirty in the morning

The first tutorial group starts at two-thirty in the morning

MAASTRICHT/NEW YORK. From Tuesday, 14 April, Nils Kok, associate professor at the School of Business and Economics, who lives in a suburb of New York, will set the alarm for two o’clock in the morning. Half an hour before the first of four tutorial groups starts. His teaching day finishes at around twelve o’clock in the afternoon, local...
Wearing a face mask while training for a half marathon

Wearing a face mask while training for a half marathon

Jasmina Peneva, a research master’s student of Cognitive Neuroscience, travelled back to her home country of Bulgaria last Sunday. She’s not staying with her parents, but in a family friend’s flat. “As the Netherlands is a ‘red zone’, I had to be quarantined for two weeks. My parents need to leave the house for w...

‘A tale of two sisters’

‘A tale of two sisters’

Two sisters that come from very different fields, shed light on how Covid 19 has changed their work and lives. Christine Neuhold is professor  EU Democratic Governance at Maastricht University (FaSoS) and lives in Brussels, where she directs UM Campus Brussels. Stephanie Neuhold is Head Doctor in charge of the Intensive Care Unit of Infectious...
“The payments were fraudulent, but he didn’t commit fraud”

“The payments were fraudulent, but he didn’t commit fraud”

MAASTRICHT. VitaK, the now bankrupt subsidiary company of Maastricht University, was not supervised closely enough, allowing conflicts of interest to arise. And Leon Schurgers, a UM professor who used to work for VitaK, was involved in questionable activities with false invoices. These are the results of an investigation conducted by UM after local...
“I’m just staring at the ceiling, wishing I would stop thinking”

“I’m just staring at the ceiling, wishing I would stop thinking”

These are very difficult days for Maja Niekrasz, first-year student of European Law. “I have struggled with depression and anxiety all my life. I tend to overthink everything. I got help a couple of years ago and I’ve made a lot of progress since then, but right now I feel like I’ve moved back a few steps.” Her brain is w...

SBE master’s students accused of plagiarism

MAASTRICHT. Now that the first online exams have been made, there are also the first cases of fraud. For example, ten out of the hundred master’s students who did the take-home exam for the subject of Behavioural Finance this week, used exactly the same words to answer a number of questions. They will get a NG (No Grade) for their exams and e...
“Even at its worst, I don’t expect a situation like in Italy”

“Even at its worst, I don’t expect a situation like in Italy”

The peak in the number of those infected and fatalities will most likely come in April, or possibly in May. Because of the corona measures taken, the epidemic is not growing exponentially, but it is growing, says professor Christian Hoebe, member of the Outbreak Management Team (OMT) that has been advising the government. That is why the measures h...
Nine million members, and that for a provider of obscure classics

Nine million members, and that for a provider of obscure classics

No more moaning about my aversion to video on demand (VOD): let’s take a look at another VOD provider. After Picl and Film 1, we focus on MUBI this week. What is MUBI? MUBI was set up in 2007 – at the time under the name ‘The Auteurs’ – by Turkish entrepreneur and Stanford alumnus Efe Çakarel. His motivation? Fru...

The Netherlands extends anti-corona measures to April 28, at least

THE NETHERLANDS. Special measures to stop the spread of coronavirus in the Netherlands are to be extended until April 28 at least, prime minister Mark Rutte told a press conference on Tuesday.  ​
UCM-student: apartment is empty, roommates went home

UCM-student: apartment is empty, roommates went home

Elisabeth Hiller, a second-year student at University College Maastricht, spent the past two weeks at a fellow student’s house in The Hague. “She invited me to stay with her so I wouldn’t have to be alone if a total lockdown was announced.” As it doesn’t look like the Netherlands will go into a full lockdown, she will ...