University College Maastricht

University College Maastricht

August 27, 2019 1 By Kody Olson


You know, there are many reasons
why you might want to go to university. Some students want
to spend three years partying. Some students want to get as far away
as possible from their parents. Some students are interested
in getting a piece of paper. But then there are some students
who want to go to university because they love learning, because they have very many interests, and the thought of only studying one thing
scares them and confines them. Students who don’t mind working hard, because it doesn’t feel
like working to them. It feels like exploration. It feels like discovery. And who really think that the best way
to do that is to do it in a community of like-minded people,
who are just as excited about learning, about becoming
the best version of yourself. Then all I can say is:
Welcome home. Wow, do I need to say anything more? That’s Teun Dekker, a political philosopher
and vice dean of the Liberal Arts and Science programme,
University College Maastricht. Or, as we like to call it, UCM. I’m sitting in the common room at UCM, where students hang out
before and after classes. So what is UCM, Teun? UCM is a small-scale liberal arts programme
based on two fundamental ideas. Number one: freedom of choice. We have an open curriculum, from which
you can compose your own course of studies. You can decide what courses
you want to take, because UCM believes that you yourself
know best what you need to learn for the future you want. And the second key point
of our curriculum is: personal attention and academic community. We aren’t a teaching factory. We aren’t a place where you go
for your classes, and then go home. We are a community of people
in which we take time for each other, in which we have discussions
inside the classroom, but also outside the classroom. And where we’re always doing stuff together,
because we understand that you learn from people
as much as you learn from books. Sounds great. Did you know that you can compose
your own curriculum from over 150 courses in the humanities, social sciences
and sciences? One-third of the curriculum is devoted
to skills training and projects. These teach you valuable, transferable
skills essential for any future career. Let’s meet Maria, a first-year student. Maria, could you please tell us
a bit more about your concentration? My name is Maria.
I am 20 years old. I come from Colombia,
and my concentration is Social Sciences. Basically, I’m interested in many things,
such as philosophy, political science, and international relations, but I decided to concentrate
on international law and sustainable development,
because when I leave UCM, I want to work in an NGO
or maybe even found my own NGO. So, do students get any support
choosing their own courses? Lonneke Bevers, one of the coordinators
at UCM, can tell you more about that. Constructing your own curriculum
can be a big opportunity, but at the same time,
also a very difficult task. That’s why, at UCM, every student gets
assigned to an academic adviser, who is usually an expert
in your field of interest, and that adviser stays with you
throughout your career at UCM. And this person advises you,
gives you feedback and guidance on your course choices, your future plans,
your master’s programme, for instance, and helps you make the right decisions. So, wait. Do you need to know
what you want to do before you start out? We encourage our students to use
the first year to explore their interests. Take the courses that you think
you’re interested in, and see whether that really is truly
what you’re interested in. After the first year, you should start
to focus by picking a concentration, and from then on, take more and more
advanced courses and deepen your knowledge. Do you already know
about Problem-Based Learning? Like in all UM programmes,
PBL is our educational system. What does that mean, Teun? That means that we don’t put lecturers
in front of large groups of students to tell the students how the world works. We have a form of education that we call
Problem-Based Learning, in which small groups of 12 or 13
students sit together, in a room like this, and study problems,
ask questions about those problems, think about what they need to know
to understand and answer those problems. And in that way, they run
their own educational process. By the way, over 60 percent
of the students here are from abroad. They represent over 50 nationalities. How does that contribute
to your UCM experience? Also, the environment is super nice
to be in. Everyone is so eager to learn from you,
and you can learn so much. Also because there are a lot
of international students you’re going to meet, from all over
the world, and it’s very interesting to get in touch with other cultures
that are not yours, basically. Ah, yes. The UCM community. Although it’s a non-residential programme, students organise plenty of activities
after class. Here’s a nice vlog of the Open Mic Night,
to give you a taste of the UCM atmosphere. So sweet. But back to you. What you need to know is that UCM has
a selective admissions process, because they only take in
200 new students a year. You’ll fit in here if you’re motivated,
you like to work hard and get excited by ideas, books,
debates and thinking. And if you’re interested in doing research,
UCM offers plenty of opportunities to engage in that during your studies. And last but not least, I heard that most students get accepted
to their master’s programme of choice. So, what can you do, exactly, after UCM? The question isn’t:
What can you do after UCM? The question is:
What can’t you do after UCM? UCM offers
a completely flexible curriculum, so you can really plan ahead
and design an optimal preparation for the future you want. And you can really create the curriculum
that prepares you for the kind of job and career that suits you best. And even if you don’t know what it is
that you want to do afterwards, what matters in the workplace of the future
isn’t what you know, but rather, what matters is:
your skills. Whether you are able to work together
with other people to solve problems. Whether you can write. Whether you can do research. Whether you can ask and answer questions. And because UCM has such an emphasis
on developing your skills, your researching skills,
your presentation skills, your argumentation skills,
your thinking skills, you’ll be able to distinguish yourself
in whatever field you choose. Hi, everyone. Hello. I could listen to him all day. If you feel the same and you care
about choosing your own curriculum, developing valuable skills
and studying in a close-knit community, then come to UCM and get ready
for your future.