The latest survey results reported by British analytics company QS show that many international students who would like to go to university in Europe are delaying their plans to come here by a year because of the coronavirus crisis. This could have serious consequences for an international institution like Maastricht University.
Rianne Letschert, rector of UM, participated in a debate televised by broadcaster HUMAN last week. She mentioned the possibility of universities “collapsing”, although she was not referring specifically to the situation in Maastricht. “I’m not a psychic, but if fewer students enrol and the crisis continues, we will suffer financial consequences”, she later explained in an interview with higher education news agency Hoger Onderwijs Persbureau. At the same time, there is no need to panic: she also said that enrolment numbers have not yet declined, “although we won’t know for sure until September”.
It is currently unclear how many new students have already enrolled. The university will not publish its enrolment numbers, said interim spokesperson Fons Elbersen today.
If the coronavirus crisis does affect any of the study programmes on offer at UM, it will presumably mainly affect the most international programmes, like the two-year master’s degree in Forensic Psychology. Observant wrote an article about this programme almost three years ago, using it as an example of the international classroom concept. According to Professor Corine de Ruiter, “Our master’s programme is as popular as ever. Students say they want to come here because UM is the only university in the world offering a two-year master’s programme that provides them with such a solid scientific and practical foundation.” Over the past few weeks, they selected a new cohort of 25 students from the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Norway, Italy, Greece, Ukraine, Canada and the United States.
It’s still unclear what teaching in the programme will look like. “We hope to be able to offer some face-to-face teaching in September”, says De Ruiter. “In our experience, it very much strengthens the relationships among students as well as with teachers.”
The Executive Board will soon decide whether the university will offer online education or a hybrid form of education in the next academic year. Yesterday, Dutch universities launched a campaign with the slogan “On campus, if we can | Online, because we can” to show that they are ready to go and to encourage prospective students to enrol.