Rector Rianne Letschert informed the entire University Council of the decision last Wednesday. The three faculties wanted to set up compulsory education in the evening for students from September – a one-year trial – because they expect a shortage of classrooms. The problems are caused not only by the explosive growth of student numbers at the law faculty, but also by the need for FHML to catch up on skills training that was postponed because of COVID-19 (alongside the regular programme). This would make classes up to 21:00 hrs inevitable. The faculty councils involved were positive, but the University Council committee was against any compulsion two weeks ago.
In the law faculty council meeting last Wednesday, dean Jan Smit reacted to the news: “We will have to see how to deal with this. We do see that the growth curve is levelling off, which is good news in this case.” But the interest in the bachelor’s of Dutch Law is still increasing by 50 per cent, the master’s by 4 per cent, and European Law School by 7 per cent.
Aside from the growth slowing down, which eases the pain somewhat, the faculty has been able to reserve additional classrooms, among others in the Kapoenstraat, as well as the fifth time slot being maintained, but then on a voluntary basis. All this together gives Smit the hope that they will manage with the available spaces in September.
The request for evening education at FSE (tutorial groups until 19:00 rather than 18:00 hrs) is not because of the growing number of students and lack of space, dean Thomas Cleij explains. It is all about freedom of choice for students to be able to take their subjects of preference. “We are trying to adapt our open curriculum structure to the Maastricht Science Program (MSP) and the new bachelor’s of Circular Engineering (CE) in such a way that our programme remains affordable, but also gives students the opportunity to choose all kinds of combinations of subjects,” says Cleij. An additional time slot would make it easier to complete the schedule for those various combinations.
Now that the University Council has thwarted the plan – even though the FSE faculty council did support it – the MSP and CE students will have less freedom compiling their curriculum. Cleij: “That is a pity.”
Riki Janssen/Wendy Degens