During the tour, Observant noticed that foreign students and their parents or guides did not know about the Keuzegids, something that didn’t surprise Hans Ouwersloot, policy officer for rankings at Maastricht University. “They value The Times Higher Education or the Shanghai ranking more.” Still, the ten foreign pupils who were interviewed claimed not to have checked out any of the rankings. A good reputation often appears to go by word-of-mouth. “A friend of a friend of my sister’s is studying psychology in Groningen. That appealed to me too,” says a German school-leaver from Bonn who together with her mother and sister are just catching their breath from all the impressions at UNS 40. “I have already been to Groningen, but that friend is now switching to the UM. Apparently, the programme is better here.” So, high time for a visit to the Maastricht open day. Well, what does she think? “There is a lovely atmosphere, and the building is not as old as the one in Groningen. Besides it is much more international, I have already heard French, Italian and Spanish.” The choice has been made; she will be living in Maastricht by September.
Location also plays a role. “Close to home,” say two school-leavers from Bree and Liege who have come to take a ‘closer’ look at Medicine and Psychology, respectively. Pupils who are already at an international school (like a young man from Luxembourg and one from Brussels) prefer a follow-up study in English at an international university.
The other 22 pupils and their parents or guides are Dutch. The grand total of one of them “checked out” the Keuzegids. It is a student who is studying at University College in Venlo at the moment, but who would like to switch to Medicine. Only three other Dutch pupils have actually heard of it. The Keuzegids means nothing to the parents. It is the city – “fun”, “mam and dad are from Limburg,” “close to home” – and the international character that are the deciding factors. On the odd occasion, Problem-based Learning plays a role. Most of the school-leavers intend to visit as many universities as possible, from Utrecht and Rotterdam to Groningen and Nijmegen.
Maastricht University doesn’t know exactly how many people visited the bachelor’s open day on 8 February. The registration system was not working yet as a result of the cyberattack just before Christmas, the UM website states: “according to estimations, the turnout was slightly higher than last year and half of the visitors came from abroad.” Last year, there were 2,422 visitors at the open day (this number represents the potential new students, they had on average two people accompanying them).
Wendy Degens, Riki Janssen