Maastricht University (UM) aims to be a place where talent can flourish. But with only 15.5 per cent of all professors being female, it seems there’s still a long way to go. Three young academics dove into the topic of female underrepresentation in the higher ranks of academia. Their conclusion? “This is not only a women’s problem.”

Tuesday, 13 October 2015 09:53

The power of logical thinking

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The tidy room with its empty desk reflects the organised mind of its occupant. Professor of Econometrics Franz Palm talks about his field with infectious enthusiasm, though in carefully chosen words. “Econometrics combines ‘hard’ maths with the ‘softer’ social sciences. That’s why it appeals to me so much.” Here he looks back on a long and successful university career, for which he was honoured last summer with the title Knight in the Order of the Dutch Lion.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015 08:30

Employability is also a matter of attitude

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Employability is an important theme in higher education. Thorough knowledge of your subject is essential, but so too are practical skills, experience and attitude: knowing what you’re talking about, but also being able to anticipate change, take initiative and continue learning. For that you need good self-awareness, which is something you can and should work on even as a student, according to Professor Mariëlle Heijltjes of Maastricht University (UM) and Oscar van den Wijngaard, tutor and coordinator of academic advising at University College Maastricht (UCM).

Wednesday, 16 September 2015 08:04

Darwin vs industrial-capitalist thinking

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The industrial dogma “cheaper is better” is about to prove short-sighted, according to Maastricht University (UM) professor of New Biobased Building Blocks Stefaan de Wildeman. In addition to developing new plastics from renewable sources in his laboratory on the Brightlands Chemelot Campus, he is working to change the way we think about plastics. “The heyday of capitalism must make way for a natural evolution towards renewable plastics that are not necessarily cheaper.”

If a Dutch person is suspected of theft in Poland then he or she is automatically put on an aeroplane to Poland and held in custody there until the court case. The European Arrest Warrant (EAW) which makes that possible is based on the trust that procedural rights in EU Member States are comparable just like the conditions in prisons. “But that surrender practice is based on a misconception”, says PhD researcher Wouter van Ballegooij, who for many years studied these matters and also worked in the European Parliament. “Collaboration is not the same as subjecting yourself to the will of the other party. Certainly not if that is to the detriment of individual rights.” His thesis describes how it can or, to be honest, must be done differently. “Now is the time to act.” Take the case of Robert Hörchner. This Dutchman from the province of Brabant was handed over to the Polish authorities in 2007, because he was suspected of involvement in the renting of a Polish building where cannabis was being grown. He was remanded in custody for ten months where he shared a cell with nine others, including hard criminals, in appalling conditions. After paying 4500 euros in bail he was allowed to return to the Netherlands where amongst other things he was diagnosed with a post-traumatic stress disorder.

In 1987 Diana, Princess of Wales, shakes hands with a man with HIV. Click, goes the camera, and the picture is seen all over the world. At the height of the AIDS frenzy, this gesture was a huge statement. How different things are today, with HIV now a chronic rather than a deadly disease in many parts of the world. Nonetheless, people living with HIV continue to be confronted with stigma – a prejudice all of us may be guilty of.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015 14:59

From village girl to globetrotter

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Born and raised in one of Limburg’s smallest villages, UM graduate Judith van Doorn  has long been a woman of the world. As a microcredit specialist at the United Nations (UN), she is abroad more often than not. Having lived in the Caribbean, Switzerland and Ethiopia, she is now on her fourth adventure abroad with her husband and children, in Pretoria in South Africa.

In 2009 Sulaiman Al Rajhi called in the help of Maastricht University (UM). The billionaire Saudi businessman dreamed of establishing a private university of medicine in his homeland. Now, his dream has become reality: the first doctors will graduate from the Sulaiman Al Rajhi Medical College this spring.

When it comes to developing new technologies, what needs are we creating? According to Harro van Lente, UM professor of Science and Technology Studies, this is a question that needs asking more often. Social issues should be the starting point for innovation. And for the valorisation of innovative research, a good education is essential.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015 14:47

"Maastricht is a great student city"

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Institutional investors are the key shareholders for companies like KPN. Maastricht University alum Wouter Stammeijer has been Head of Investor Relations at the telecom company since February, and as such is responsible for maintaining relationships with the investors. "Dialogue is essential", he says.

Women who are diagnosed with breast cancer have to make some tough decisions. In April, the Maastricht University Medical Centre+ (MUMC+) launched the Breast Cancer Decision Aid for patients with early stage breast cancer. The aim of this digital tool is to help women make an informed choice between breast-conserving therapy and a mastectomy with or without breast reconstruction. “International studies show that patients are less likely to regret their decision and more likely to be satisfied with their treatment when they get the chance to make choices together with the doctor and the treatment team”, says the project leader Trudy van der Weijden. “We’re convinced that using the Breast Cancer Decision Aid improves the dialogue between doctor and patient.”

Wednesday, 10 June 2015 14:37

The art of collaboration

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Each March, Maastricht turns into a magnet for art lovers, collectors, curators and the rich and famous from all over the world. No fewer than 75,000 visitors descended on this year’s TEFAF, the world's largest art and antiques fair. For ten days, the city becomes the centre of the cultural universe – a universe that is becoming increasingly complex. To tackle this complexity, academics and professionals from the field of arts and heritage have joined forces in a new and unprecedented collaboration: the Maastricht Centre for Arts and Culture, Conservation and Heritage (MACCH).

Wednesday, 10 June 2015 14:25

“Annual post-Eurovision depression”

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"Best Eurovision song? That’s a tough one. Eres tu or Loreen's Euphoria?" Eurovision fan Wilfred van Dellen can’t decide; there are just so many great songs to choose from. Back in his student days, he arranged for the spectacle to be shown on a big screen at the COC, the association for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in Limburg where he worked as a volunteer. But ever since he saw the real thing in 2011, the screen just doesn't cut it anymore. Now an educational psychologist and teacher/researcher at UCM, Van Dellen and his partner will head for Vienna in late May to see the 60th song contest. "It’s a sort of bubble – a highly addictive one."

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