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This page lists some of our actions in the past year.

15/05/2024 De Volkskrant Collaboration

International Student Monitor

In a collaboration that bridges academia and media, we joined forces with the renowned Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant to delve into the experiences and perspectives of international students in the Netherlands.

 

The aim of our investigation was to shed light on the sentiments surrounding the Dutch government's proposed plans to limit the influx of international students, particularly in the wake of the recent election results.

 

Through a series of interviews, surveys, and focus groups, the collaboration sought to capture the nuanced perspectives of international students studying in the Netherlands. One of the focal points of the investigation was the reaction of international students to the Dutch government's proposals to restrict the number of incoming international students. These measures, often discussed in the context of overcrowded classrooms and housing shortages, sparked intense debate within both academic and political spheres. The outcome of the elections, particularly with the far-right surge in the Netherlands, added a layer of complexity to the discourse surrounding international student policies. 

 

Our partnership with De Volkskrant provided a platform for our international students to express their concerns, hopes, and frustrations regarding these potential changes. 

MSU remains committed to amplifying the voices of our students through informed and nuanced public discourses on the challenges and opportunities associated with international student mobility in the Netherlands. 

Links to the article can be found here:

English version

Dutch version 

25/04/2024 University Elections 2024

University Council (UC) results: 

In the university council, there are ten positions designated for students. On this occasion, NovUM and Dope each secured four seats, while Kan Party and List Lex-Motus obtained one seat each. Starting from September, students affiliated with NovUM will be represented in all faculty councils. However, Dope was unable to achieve this feat. Despite having a strong presence in numerous faculty councils, particularly in the Faculty of Health, Medicine, and Life Sciences (FHML) where they hold seven seats, Dope lacks representation in the faculties of Arts and Social Sciences, as well as Science and Engineering (where they did not submit a candidate list).

This year, students (both academic and support staff serving two-year terms) were eligible to cast their votes. However, the voter turnout was low, with less than a fifth of all Maastricht students participating. The Faculty of Health, Medicine, and Life Sciences (FHML) saw the highest engagement, with a turnout of 26 percent. In contrast, the School of Business and Economics had the lowest participation rate, standing at 12.8 percent.

Additionally, elections were held for service councils, although only ICTS had contested elections. In the other service councils, there were fewer candidates than available seats.

Novum Sweeps University Elections: A New Dawn for Student Representation

In a resounding victory, the student party Novum has emerged triumphant in this year's university elections, marking a seismic shift in the landscape of student governance within Maastricht University. With a compelling vision and dedication to inclusivity, Novum captured the hearts and votes of students, clinching the majority of seats in the university council. One of the key factors behind Novum's landslide victory is its unwavering commitment to sustainability and mental health initiatives. With the pressing challenges of climate change and the increasing awareness of mental health issues among students, Novum's proactive stance on these critical issues resonated deeply with voters. Their promise to prioritize sustainability measures and enhance mental health support services struck a chord with students, who yearn for a university environment that nurtures their well-being while addressing broader societal concerns.

While we remain impartial to student parties, we are proud to have a longstanding relationship with Novum in our fight for student rights and representation in Maastricht.

Overall, the victory of the newly elected are not without challenges. The real test lies in translating their campaign promises into tangible actions that benefit the entire student community. As they assume their roles in the university council, this year's representatives must navigate the complexities of governance while staying true to their principles and the mandate entrusted to them by our students.

25/03/2024 Muse Einstein student complex

Student Housing Issue

In the first trimester of 2024, MSU has been assisting several students in initiating legal action against ECM Development, the proprietor of the Muse Einstein Campus in Randwyck. They are seeking both access to the rented studios and compensation for additional expenses incurred due to the delayed completion of the building. Despite ongoing repairs addressing water damage within the premises, the exact date of completion remains uncertain.

Approximately five hundred students received notice at the end of December, just two weeks before the scheduled completion, that they would be unable to move into the new complex due to technical issues, particularly water accumulation in prefabricated concrete slabs. Since then, Nido, the managing entity, has actively encouraged tenants to terminate their leases. Nonetheless, a small group of 48 students has chosen not to do so, opting instead to engage legal representation to enforce their lease agreements.

This legal action has resulted in a summons, which will be served to ECM Development in the coming days, according to attorney Xavier Stassen of the Stassen Kreutzkamp law firm. Six students from this group are seeking compensation for the additional expenses incurred by securing alternative accommodations last minute, including storage fees for furniture and higher rental costs. Moreover, they have forfeited rent subsidies that would have been applicable to the Muse Einstein Campus studios.

Additionally, two students are demanding access to their studios as per their contractual rights, citing the absence of evidence demonstrating inhabitable conditions. They are also seeking compensation for intangible damages such as stress and potential academic delays caused by this situation.

Both ECM Development and Nido have denied liability, attributing the circumstances to factors beyond their control. However, Stassen contends that such claims are unlikely to be upheld by the court, as constructional deficiencies fall under the proprietor's responsibility, not unforeseeable circumstances.

Repair efforts are ongoing, with construction company Hurks addressing the water damage by drilling holes in ceilings to facilitate drainage. Despite these efforts, a definitive completion date remains elusive, raising concerns about the availability of accommodations for new students in September. Maurice Evers, head of Maastricht Housing, emphasizes the critical importance of completing the more than five hundred studios by July to avert a housing shortage in Maastricht. 

Students affected by this shortcoming are continually invited to reach out to MSU for assistance.

27/02/2024 Dutch Study Grant

Student Finance Issue

The Dutch study grant is set to decrease significantly starting from September, as decided by the House of Representatives last week. Students residing away from home will see their basic grant reduced to 302 euros per month, marking a decrease of 164 euros compared to their current allowance. This news has sparked concern among students in Maastricht.

A first-year student at the European Law School, who prefers to remain anonymous, expresses worry and disappointment over the worsening conditions. She is uncertain about how to manage her finances, contemplating whether to increase her workload or dip into her savings. Despite already being mindful of her expenses, she finds it unjust to cut a grant that many students rely on. Struggling to balance work and studies, she highlights the challenges of finding employment without Dutch language proficiency and the toll it takes on her academic performance.

 

The return of the basic student grant this academic year after an eight-year hiatus was welcomed by students. However, the recent decision by the House of Representatives to end the temporary increase in the grant has dampened spirits. Dutch students Aukje Brolsma and Thijmen Janssen from University College Maastricht question the justification behind cutting the basic grant, especially amidst rising living costs. With plans to move to Maastricht soon, Janssen anticipates higher expenses and fears having to work even more to cover his living costs.

Master's student Jaidy de Caluwé, though unaffected by the impending changes, voices dissatisfaction with the study finance system. Having accrued substantial study debt due to the absence of a basic grant in previous years, she questions whether she should be grateful for receiving it in the final months of her studies. Despite working alongside her studies, financial struggles persist, leading to missed opportunities such as trips with friends.

The reduction in the basic grant will impact students differently based on their living arrangements. While students residing in their own rooms currently receive 466.69 euros per month, this will decrease to 302.39 euros in the upcoming academic year. However, there will be no changes for students living with their parents, who continue to receive 121.33 euros per month. Additionally, students may qualify for a supplementary grant based on their parents' income, with the maximum amount being 457.60 euros per month.

05/12/2023 Bsc. European Law Electronics Ban

Maastricht Student Union has been receiving worrisome correspondence from BSc European Law students concerning the introduction of an electronics prohibition subsequent to an incident involving a student recording a lecture. This policy alteration is particularly inconvenient as students are merely two weeks away from their exams. This decision is perceived as highly discriminatory and neglectful of the varied learning preferences among students. Many individuals, especially auditory learners, heavily rely on audio recordings as a crucial aid in their educational process.

Furthermore, the electronics ban encompasses all devices, compelling students to hastily dispose of the soft copies they purchased and procure hardcopies, which they will only utilise for the remaining two weeks.

As MSU is faces constraints in directly intervening in faculty matters, the Student Union has engaged with faculty representatives, including Christian Rusu, to address this matter. We extend an invitation and remain eagerly awaiting faculty staff to step up and engage in an open discourse regarding this issue. So far, the course coordinator has been unresponsive to our requests for clarification and substantive discussion to safeguard the welfare of students.

Moreover, the approach taken by the Director of Studies for the European Law School, Dr. Nicole Kornet, in querying the identities of complaining students is seen as unwarranted and dubious by the Student Union.

The Student Union remains steadfast in its commitment to championing the rights and welfare of all students. It will persist in pursuing avenues for resolution through appropriate channels to challenge this restrictive policy and uphold an inclusive and supportive learning environment catering to diverse learning needs.

07/12/2023 Energy Compensation in Maastricht

Student Finance Achievement

After months of talks with the municipality of Maastricht, the local town hall  is set to introduce a "safety net regulation" aimed at providing financial assistance to foreign students who do not receive energy cost compensation from DUO.

 

The Mayor and Aldermen intend to finalize this regulation by December.

Starting January 2024, foreign students will be able to apply for compensation under this new regulation, which will be modeled after the existing DUO regulation. Eligibility criteria and application procedures are expected to mirror those of DUO's scheme.

The DUO regulation currently provides a 400-euro allowance for energy bills in 2023 to students who held a living-away-from-home grant and an additional grant as of October 1. Similarly, students with an additional grant who had a loan with DUO in October will also receive compensation automatically in early 2024, without the need for individual applications.

The provision of energy allowances for 2022 was initially managed solely by municipalities, with many initially excluding students from eligibility. However, following criticism and legal challenges, including those in Maastricht, municipalities revised their stance. The government allocated 35 million euros at the time to compensate affected students.

 

The city of Maastricht anticipated approximately 1,500 eligible students by the end of 2022. However, data from newspaper de Volkskrant in June revealed that Maastricht received 639 applications, of which 262 were approved. Further inquiries indicated that 256 of the applicants were international students, with 142 receiving compensation.

The exact number of eligible foreign students and the associated costs for the city under the new regulation are yet to be determined, pending the establishment of criteria. Despite criticism from the National Student Union LSVb regarding unequal support for students compared to other low-income groups, they acknowledge the positive step taken by Maastricht.

 

The city's initiative stands out as the sole municipality in the Netherlands to announce such a provision.

02/12/2023 Centre Universitaire d'enseignement du Journalism (CUEJ.info) Strasbourg

International Student Monitor

MSU worked in collaboration with journalists from CUEJ.info in Strasbourg on a compelling exploration of international student experiences in Maastricht, a vibrant student town renowned for its diverse and inclusive community.

Maastricht's status as a student town, attracting a significant population of international students, provided the ideal backdrop for this collaborative investigation. With its bustling streets, dynamic academic institutions, and rich multicultural tapestry, Maastricht epitomized the essence of an international community and as a global hub of education and cultural exchange.

In recognition of our international community, we seek to amplify the voices and experiences of international students, acknowledging their contributions to the fabric of Maastricht's social and academic landscape.

 

Through a series of interviews, feature articles, and multimedia presentations, the collaboration between the MSU and CUEJ.info delved into the multifaceted experiences of international students in Maastricht. From navigating cultural differences to forging meaningful connections with peers from around the globe, the stories captured the essence of life as an international student in this vibrant Dutch city.

Central to the investigation was the theme of inclusion within the international community of Maastricht. The collaboration explored how international students found a sense of belonging amidst the cultural diversity and academic rigor of Maastricht University and other educational institutions in the city. By highlighting personal anecdotes, challenges, and triumphs, the partnership underscored the importance of fostering an inclusive environment that celebrates diversity and promotes cross-cultural understanding.

Moreover, the collaboration between the MSU and CUEJ.info served as a testament to the power of cross-border partnerships in journalism and advocacy. By uniting students and journalists from Maastricht and Strasbourg, the initiative transcended geographical boundaries to amplify the voices of international students on an international stage. This collaborative approach not only enriched the narrative surrounding international student experiences in Maastricht but also fostered meaningful connections and dialogue between students, journalists, and communities across Europe.

Link to the publication here.

13/11/2023 Studentcity meeting with Alderman Johan Pas

As representatives from Maastricht Student Union (MSU), we are the sole student representatives invited for regular town hall meetings with the municipality. 

One of such meeting include the yearly Studentcity meeting where we collaborate with city leadership, represented this year by Alderman Johan Pas. The aim of Studentcity meetings is to address student concerns and strengthen the bond between our students and the city. In these meetings, we delve into matters significant to students residing in Maastricht, exploring avenues to enhance this relationship and discussing potential areas for improvement.

During the session, particular emphasis was placed on bolstering the connection between the Maastricht business community and students. We examined strategies to strengthen this link and identified areas where improvements could be made. Of paramount importance is the alignment between students and career opportunities within Maastricht, and we actively seek input on how to enhance this aspect.

A cornerstone of these discussions is the Implementation Programme for Student City, which was developed partly based on MSU'sfeedback from the previous year. This year's discussions were focused on the Economy and Labour Market, and highlighting the importance of aligning student needs with economic opportunities within the city.

15/05/2023 University Elections Full Results

UM's yearly university elections took place from 8th May to 11th May this year, with both student and staff candidates vying to represent their fellow schoolmates across the University, Faculty and Service Councils.

We are pleased to announce that voter turnout increased from 17% in 2022 to 20% this year!

Full results can be found here.

12/02/2023 Police Brutality

Following acts of unprovoked police brutality carried out on compliant students on the night between 11th and 12th February, MSU has taken steps to verify and contact all parties concerned.

MSU condemns the mistreatment and breach of rights, and extends its support to all students affected by the event. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us with your concerns and expectations going forward.

14/12/2022 Housing Update -- Splitsen en omzetten

In 2022, we focused on improving a permanent part of the municipal's current house division and house conversion for room-by-room rentals.

 

Following stakeholders' meetings and feedback sent to the municipal, it has been decided that the Board will draw up a new list of streets that would be refused further expansion of room-based rental. 

The new list will take effect on 10 January 2023, simultaneously with the start of the 2023 application round for the quotas for splitting, converting to room rental and small-scale repurposing (40-40-40- rule).

07/12/2022 Energy Subsidy Plan

Student Finance Issue

Despite months of discussions with the town hall, the implementation of an energy subsidy plan for students in Maastricht has been postponed until January, much to the dissatisfaction of council members like outselves. Last October, Alderman Alex Meij had assured counocil members that a plan would be devised by November, with December being the latest timeline. However, during the city council meeting on Tuesday night, Meij conceded that more time was required, indicating that a final plan may not be ready until January.

 

Meij explained that he is exploring various scenarios, including the possibility of providing compensation to student housing residents who share an energy bill. This represents a shift from his earlier stance in mid-October when he ruled out this scenario, stating that only students with independent living quarters and individual energy contracts would be considered for assistance.

Council member Miriam Elfassih from D66 has also been vocal about her disappointment with Meij's response, stressing the urgency of the current energy crisis and the need for a timely solution to alleviate students' financial burdens. She expressed hope that a comprehensive plan would be in place by January to address students' needs. Martin van Rooij, chairman of M:OED, joins in expressing his dissatisfaction with Meij's handling of the situation, emphasizing that the Alderman had been working on the plan for several months. Van Rooij expressed disappointment that other municipalities had already provided subsidies months ago, underscoring the need for prompt action. He lamented the delay in addressing such an important issue, particularly as it affects students who are currently facing uncertainty. Van Rooij had hoped for a positive resolution before the Christmas period to provide students with some relief. Unfortunately, it seems unlikely that the subsidy will be passed before then.

MSU will continue to press for the implementation of an energy subsidy and invite students struggling with energy costs to reach out to us.

19/10/2022 Open call for RTV -- Student Loans 

We are currently working with RTV on the subject of student loans and invite students to share their thoughts, experiences, concerns and suggestions regarding the increase in interest for student loans here

All responses will be kept confidential, unless explicit permission is granted.

07/09/2022 New organisational structure

MSU is proud to announce that we are expanding our organisational structure to include officers for each individual portfolio. In the past, each board member juggled with multiple portfolios each. This change comes as we wish to motivate and give more students of Maastricht a platform to step up and fight for our shared causes.

We will be keeping applications open on a rolling basis here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScSvlxWX_rMGBU-jJ3TpkHbr3bCGtCe3Wz8pzNaPztFDRRM3w/viewform?usp=sf_link

06/07/2022 Maastricht Coalition Agreement 2022-2026

Following the municipal council elections of 16 March 2022 and the subsequent information phase, the parties SPM, D66, CDA, PvdA, PVM, VVD and Volt entered into talks to draw up an agreement for the course of the municipality during the next four years, including the members of the municipal executive to be appointed. The results of these talks are presented in the current document.

 

MSU's input has also been included in the form of policy evaluations, numerous stakeholder documents and interviews. We are proud of our continued effort for all students of Maastricht and thank our students for their continued trust and support.

Full Coalition Agreement in English:

https://www.gemeentemaastricht.nl/sites/default/files/2022-07/Coalition%20agreement%20EN%202022-2026.pdf

16/06/2022 The Class Regional Forum – Netherlands & Belgium

We were recently invited to The Class Regional Forum – Netherlands & Belgium by The Class Foundation in Amsterdam to learn and share our experiences regarding the Dutch and Belgian student housing markets.

As it stands, only 12% of student accommodations in the Netherlands, are privately owned and operated which exacerbates the Student Housing Crisis. Maastricht being situated at the Dutch and Belgian boarders means MSU takes on a greater responsibility in looking out for students in the Maastricht vicinity and beyond.

During our time at the forum, we participated in discussions with Loyens & Loeff Tax and Legalities and the Panel Discussion on Internationalisation of the Netherlands and Policy Reform. We rounded off the day by delving into data with Knight Frank, and leave as motivated as ever to fight for the rights of our students.

14/03/2022 Municipality Elections

Chairman Cheryl Isabella communicated statements to the Maastricht Diplomat regarding the university and municipality electoral scene in Maastricht. 

Link to Maastricht Diplomat's article: https://www.maastrichtdiplomat.org/post/voices-of-the-uni-cipality

26/02/2022 Housing

Our chairman Cheryl was recently invited to an interview with Companen (retained by the municipality of Maastricht) to review the current municipal policies for the creation of student housing.

The evaluation of housing division policy (Municipality of Maastricht) report will be made public shortly.

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