Why so many Germans 'infiltrate' SBE

Student research projects at UCM


Doing research? How does that work? All newcomers at University College Maastricht are given compulsory lessons on this subject at the moment. At the end of their first year, they combine their knowledge in a research project. They are free in their choice of subject, provided it can be done within four weeks. Observant interviewed five groups from last year. Topics include stereotyping at the UM, a week without Facebook and WhatsApp, and German infiltration at SBE.

Effects of parents’ profession on job choice of students
*Annika Kloos, Céline Corthouts, Emilie Frijns, Lucas Petrelli
This project group reckoned that the influence of parents on their children’s choice of a study programme must not be underestimated. But is this hypothesis valid?
They put together a questionnaire, which they distributed online among students. “We asked about their parents’ professions and about their relationship with them,” Lucas Petrelli explains. “Do you see your parents often; are they your role models?” They were also asked about how much influence their mother and father had on them, varying from a lot to a little.
About 150 completed questionnaires were returned, from Dutch as well as foreign students, from Maastricht University and elsewhere. Most participants did studies in architecture, education, law, and business & economics. Frijns: “In the last two categories, we saw the strongest link between parents and children. Whether we can explain that? A father who runs a law practice often sees his son or daughter as his successor. And for the student it is an easy way to make a career. Image and reputation play a great role.” Jobs in business and economics are “popular”, says Petrelli. “Children see their parents being successful. The same cannot be said for education, which has some negative connotations these days.”
Emilie Frijns is the first person in her family to study at a university. She is not planning on continuing in her father’s footsteps. “He works for a German chemical company, something with finances. Well, that doesn’t do it for me. I did go to the open day at the School of Business and Economics, but I felt it was too ‘narrow’. Of course my parents were happy that I was accepted at University College, and to my father’s great delight I focussed mainly on economics in the beginning. That has changed now. I am now more interested in foreign politics.”
SPSS, a statistical computer program that all UCM first-year students had previously learned to use, appeared to be an obstacle. “Gaining insight into SPSS is not easy. You have to draw good conclusions from an amount of information. Processing the data took quite a long time, more than three weeks,” says Frijns. “And then to think we had the questionnaire ready in just one day.” Petrelli: “What I took out of this project the most was to have realized that we too are potentially able to generate new and no less valuable knowledge than what we find in the books we have read for our courses. For me, it definitely triggered a genuine interest in the field of academic research.”

The German infiltration at SBE
*Elena Klaas, Stella Wasenitz, Clara Williams
Why do so many Germans choose the School of Business and Economics, popularly termed ‘little Germany’? That was the main question for German students Elena Klaas and Stella Wasenitz, and their British fellow-student Clara Williams.
All three know that in the European Union, German students are the most mobile of all – a phenomenon that is promoted by the German government. Austria and the Netherlands are particularly popular. “The Austrians think that Germans come to them to study in order to by-pass the limitations of the numerus clausus system (based on the graduates final high school grade) in their own country,” says Elena Klaas. “Those with poor scores, are not accepted in German universities. We wondered if that was the reason why Germans choose Maastricht; do the ‘lesser’ German students come here?” Or is the deciding factor actually the fact that programmes are in English? Or the international reputation of the university, problem-based learning, the influence of friends, or a compulsory semester abroad?
It was no easy task to get the necessary data, they say. Their attempt to have the questionnaires completed via friends (who would in turn ask other friends), failed. "Then we started to hand them out ourselves,” says Klaas. They processed a total of thirty questionnaires.
The English language appears to be the main reason for embarking on a study at SBE, followed by the study programme and the international atmosphere. The fact that large numbers of fellow-countrymen also study here, doesn’t matter so much. The distance to ‘home’ is also of little importance. What is also remarkable: it is definitely not the ‘lesser’ German students who come to Maastricht. Wasenitz: “Most had a NC between 1.5 and 1.9. “That is very good. We assumed beforehand that they would have an average between 2 and 2.5 and with that would not have been admitted to a German university (the ranking is from 1 to 6). But that was not the case.”

Autonomies & Temporalities in Free Zones
*Einav Bloom, Alina Miescher, Nora Tormann
The Landbouwbelang building may be the best known example, but Maastricht has other squats as well. There is the Kunstfront on the Cabergerweg and a number of houses and shops on the Old Hickoryplein. Various squatters’ movements joined forces in the summer of 2013. “They set up the Cultural Free Zone Collective, to show that they are initiators of expositions, workshops, concerts, and lectures, that they are a breeding place for culture”, says Einav Bloom. “Freezone sounds more positive as squatting is often negatively connoted in society.”
Together with fellow students, Bloom investigated the collective and interviewed seven squatters about their uncertain lives, “about their temporariness, the vulnerability and the moving in and out of inhabitants”.
There is a flourishing squatting scene in Maastricht, say Bloom and Alina Miescher. “Although squatters feel anxious that low culture has to make way for high culture. They are also continually under threat of eviction.” Last spring the two popular squats Hotel de Ossekop and The Mandril, on the corner of the Boschstraat, disappeared. Bloom: “In a sense, that was destruction of cultural capital.”
The students are not unfamiliar with the squats. Miescher: “We go there often, know the people and volunteer at events.”
The interviews with seven ‘collectivists’ were recorded and typed out. “That was a lot of work, irritating too. There were a total of 110 pages,” says Miescher. The hard part came after everything was typed: determining what was relevant and what wasn’t. The trio concluded that every interviewee had the same ideal: political autonomy (literally ‘the law of the self’). Squatters have an aversion to laws and rules, do not want to be bound. But the way in which ‘political autonomy’ is propagated, is different for everyone, they explain. “It even clashes. One is an idealist and will not compromise on anything. The other is pragmatic and wants to achieve autonomy by compromising.”
There is not just one solution; many roads lead to Rome, they reckon. Bloom: “I cannot say which way is better. I don’t want to pass judgement on it either. We only wanted to analyse their way of thinking.”

Are we really like that? The truth behind stereotyping at Maastricht University
*Reine Ramaekers, Chloé de Vos, Lide Grotenhuis, Nina Brandner
How do other students view University College Maastricht students? And how does one characterise the average student from the School of Business and Economics? In fact, everybody knows the answer, but this project group thought it would be “good fun” to test stereotyping. Does it match who the students really are?
Lide Grotenhuis: “First we had to determine what stereotypes there are. We did have our own ideas, but those aren’t a basis for proper research. We asked a number of bachelor’s students in the inner city how they think most of their fellow-students would characterise an economics or UCM student. So this was not about their own opinions.”
“Business students were easiest to characterise: ambitious, career-sensitive, dressed casually business-like, German, hard workers, but also party animals. The average UCM student is regarded as somewhat woolly, non-realistic, a vegetarian and a starry-eyed idealist, and also someone who only wants to get good grades. In short: the ambition to improve the world versus the ambition to earn money”, they say.
The stereotypes were noted down and incorporated in a questionnaire. Grotenhuis: “We wanted to present it as neutrally as possible. So instead of ‘I want to earn money’ it became ‘I think it’s important that my future profession brings me a certain standard’. We asked UCM and SBE students to tick the boxes of the statements that matched them most. Everyone accepted the questionnaire. They enjoyed doing it.” The result: a hundred completed questionnaires, fifty from each faculty.
The project group concentrated on the two above-mentioned faculties. Grotenhuis: “The inner city faculties share a library; students meet each other regularly. Besides, we didn’t have time to include Randwyck as well.” The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences was also excluded – “most of them were already on their holidays”.
Just like everyone expected, it was confirmed: SBE students are more SBE-like than UCM-like and vice versa.
Do the UCM researchers agree? Ramaekers nods. “I would rather help people than earn money.” Grotenhuis feels “intrinsically motivated” and loves choosing her own subjects. “And I don’t look casually business-like,” she laughs. “People think of me more as being alternative.”

Constantly connected- One week without Facebook and Whatsapp 
*Annelies van der Meij, Maud Eskes, Britte van Meurs, Serf Doesborgh, Adriaan de Jonge
Britte van Meurs was on a sailing boat for a while, without Facebook, WhatsApp, Internet or whatever. She found it very relaxing. It gave her an idea: to carry out an experiment in which students would not be allowed to use Facebook and WhatsApp for seven whole days. she wanted to know, whether their stress levels would drop. Would they communicate differently? And what would the people around them think?
Together with four fellow-students, they went looking for test subjects within Maastricht University. We gave about 200 students a questionnaire, asking them things like how often they used Facebook every day. Many were willing to fill in the questionnaire, but to participate in the experiment? That was taking things too far. “Oh no… then I’m sure to lose friends,” one of them answered. Only nine students were prepared to take part in the experiment. Van Meurs and her fellow-students recorded the results in an original video of about 13 minutes (see YouTube).
The test subjects were interviewed on the third day and the seventh day. Adriaan de Jonge: “We asked them in particular about their well-being.”
The experiment shows that most of them initially became calmer – “they no longer had that feeling that they had to continually check their telephones”. But as the week progressed and the end was near, they became more stressed, even frustrated.
Other noticeable points: They had more time for other things, like reading a book, they invested more time in the people around them, were able to focus better when studying and in conversations with others.
De Jonge: “Practical problems? Some felt that it was a pity that they missed announcements for parties and other events. Facebook has, after all, a strong social character.” Another problem: those around them. “A friend was angry because I didn’t answer his WhatsApp messages.”  Van der Meij: “Everyone around you uses it. I don’t think that we can turn the clock back. We truly live in a technological culture." 


Why so many Germans 'infiltrate' SBE