Your D&I vision for UM

UM Diversity & Inclusivity (D&I) Grants

UM Diversity and Inclusivity (D&I) Grants complement UM’s broader institutional efforts in D&I policy; they encourage innovative, bottom-up initiatives promoting diversity, inclusion and equity. Every year, the Executive Board invites students, staff and alumni to translate ideas into activities, tools and small research projects or events that could produce a sustainable impact and help make UM an inclusive organisation.

We are very happy with the enthusiasm and great ideas on show in the previous rounds of D&I Grants. The winning proposals have covered issues as diverse as body positivity, celebrating language diversity, fostering a more inclusive climate, and empowerment of underrepresented groups. You can find an overview of all the past winners on this page (scroll down) or on this site.

List of winners

2023/24 Winners

D&I Grants - Why you should apply

Three former winners of Diversity & Inclusivity (D&I) Grants tell about their experience and why they think the D&I Grants are a good initiative, and what they gained from the experience during their D&I Grant project.

Ellen Krijnen, Jessica Alleva and Andjela Draganic

Projects to push the limits for a more inclusive UM - 2022


Mitigating Gender Citation Bias in Academia

Creating a Guide to Mitigate Gender Citation Bias

This project is inspired by the UM Citation Guide, A Guide by FEM that a team of educators from five different faculties at UM recently published. Research has highlighted the systematic under-citation of works by women and other marginalized groups in various research fields. Thus through the citation guide, readers can discover citation practices for students and teachers, and access different sources highlighting women and/or POC (People of Color) who are often overshadowed in the reference lists of our academic research projects.

Our project is embedded in the three main core themes of UM’s Diversity and Inclusivity mission: strengthening diversity competencies, fostering cultural change and retaining talent. Building upon the citation guide, we aim to continue these conversations in the classroom to encourage educators and students to reflect upon their citation practices, and think about how they could make more visible the work of women and other groups historically marginalized in the production of knowledge.

Within the project, various toolkits will be used to discuss citation bias in the classroom. This will be done with the help of course coordinators, tutors and students from various faculties at the university. Additionally, pre-and-post toolkit surveys will be employed to provide deeper insights into the topic. Our goal is to foster a fairer culture, to have an open discussion on these difficult subjects, and to mitigate gender citation bias, both within the university and beyond.

The project team consists of Sharon Anyango, Sally Wyatt, Lidwien Hollanders, Aurélie Carlier, Hang Nguyen and Federica Broggi. For more information about the project, do not hesitate to contact us!

Mitigating gender citation bias in academia


Building a community of first-generation students at Maastricht University

First-generation students (FGS) are those students whose caregiver(s) did not complete college/university – these students could therefore be considered true PIONEERS. Prior research within and outside of Maastricht University has shown that FGS often face challenges. Three recurring topics are that FGS often experience a lack of 1) practical, 2) emotional, and 3) financial support. Such challenges not only limit FGS’ academic potential but can also take its toll on their mental health. For instance, FGS may not be aware of opportunities and often feel like they “do not belong” (low self-esteem). Thankfully, there are already several ongoing initiatives for financially supporting FGS. With this D&I project, we, as (former) FGS, aim to 1) build a community of FGS and first-generation staff, and 2) provide easily findable FGS-tailored information. Our current plans mostly focus on retaining talent but will also be relevant for attracting talent in the future. We aim to create an inclusive environment for FGS to ask questions and share their thoughts/feelings, in an offline setting (recurring meetings) and/or online. Furthermore, by collecting practical information in a central space, FGS can learn how to efficiently navigate the academic environment. They may learn about questions or opportunities they did not know about yet. Our planned project thereby provides the much-needed emotional and practical support to ensure that FGS can become the best version of themselves.

Team members (first row left to right, second row left to right): Shanice Janssens, Carla Haelermans, Alexander Louwes, Akudo McGee, Emi Vetter, Chloe Le

P(ION)EERS Team Picture

Embracing Neurodiversity: Let’s talk about Autism and AD(H)D

Making UM a better learning space for neurodivergent students

This project aims at making UM a better learning space for neurodivergent students. In a recent survey amongst our UM community, neurodivergent students, in particular students on the Autism Spectrum and/or with AD(H)D, indicated that they often feel misunderstood and struggle to navigate through university in a way that suits them. While UM already offers a range of disability support, specific neurodivergent accommodations are still lacking, despite the increasing number of neurodivergent students within the UM population. With this project, we aim to bridge the above-mentioned gap and create a safe space at UM where neurodivergent individuals can voice their needs, get suitable help, and feel understood.

As a first step, we will equip an expertise team of student counsellors with the knowledge and skills to accommodate the neurodivergent student community and to function as a much-needed anchoring point. Additionally, we will set out focus groups to learn from the neurodivergent community itself. Together, we will brainstorm about additional support and/or facilities that could be helpful whether that might be specialized skills trainings or additional accommodations outside of the examination room. We hope that the neurodivergent student community will feel empowered to bring their unique knowledge to the table and use it to enrich our expertise.  Our ambition is to make tangible steps towards a system that is inclusive of all neurological diversity and in which neurodivergence no longer feels like a barrier towards academic achievement.

For more information about the project, do not hesitate to contact us

Team Picture: Embracing Neurodiversity: Let’s talk about Autism and AD(H)D

Mental health issues: Opening up?

Mental Health at UM

Many members of the UM community know someone with mental health issues or experience them themselves, especially in times of COVID-19. However, it can be difficult to talk about such issues as they are often stigmatized. On the other hand, not opening up often also hinders access to the necessary support. An inclusive university therefore needs support for all students and staff, including people with mental health issues.  That said, we – as a project team – also strongly believe that everyone should make a choice that fits their needs and wishes.

To achieve this goal, we will develop a tool to help UM community members make a safe choice that suits their needs and guides them towards the right support. With our project "Mental Health Problems: Opening Up?" we want to support both students and employees in their decision to discuss mental health issues. Ultimately, this will contribute to a more inclusive university for everyone.

If you want to know more about the project, then do not hesitate to contact us. The project team consists of staff members and students from different faculties: Yil Severijns (PhD candidate Health Promotion, FHML), Daniëlle Zijlstra (Lecturer Health Promotion, FHML), Véronique Vancauwenbergh (Projectmanager Student Wellbeing, Student Services Centre), Sanne Brouwers (Student Health Sciences, FHML), Femke den Uil (Student Health Sciences, FHML), and Thomas Gültzow (Assistant Professor Work & Social Psychology, FPN).

 Follow us on Instagram (@opening_up_um)

Team picture: Mental health issues: Opening up?

Studying Without Barriers

When Every Word Matters

A large part of studying is focused on reading content, whether these concern readings (e-books, articles) or teacher created material (think of videos, presentations or course books).
What we plan to do in the project:

  • Create and perform student journey(s) on how currently most used systems and tools at UM offer content (embedded or as a link out to several content formats) in the context of where they are used (during lectures, exams, individual study). Think of (documents offered in) Canvas, TestVision, Zoom (videoconferencing tool) and content offered in Library databases
  • Collect/define criteria to screen the digital accessibility of the content offered in the above mentioned systems and tools
  • Literature search on understanding content (if reading appears difficult); what works best?
  • Test whether built-in options and additional tools ensure digital accessibility of the content: o live-reading-sessions with students with dyslexia or visual impairment o live-Zoom sessions with students with hearing or visual impairment
  • Co-creation sessions with teaching staff in which making use of (temporarily) available tools in the context of actual courses will be combined with working towards guidelines for choosing, creating and sharing content in combination with these tools and perform better online sessions.

The team consists of library staff, Disability Support and M-BIC Language Lab.

Call to action:

  • Did you already make choices in selecting tools to support reading?
  • Are you or do you know of students willing to test some scenarios and tools?

Please send us an e-mail:

Girl reading animation


An Interfaculty Conference on Diversity & Inclusivity

Interdisciplinarity is the future of solving complex and wicked problems. Bridging disciplines needs to ensure that a diversity of perspectives is included. That is why we will organize “WICKED - The Interfaculty Conference”. We want to give a platform and voice to people whose discourses often take place on the fringes of finding solutions. With the student-led conference, we want to make space for marginalized voices that are frequently forgotten. A diverse group of people (UM students, UM staff from all faculties and external stakeholders) will come together to work in inclusive, diverse, and interdisciplinary teams. 

The one-day conference includes problem-solving sessions in which the student groups work on their cases to improve the UM environment on issues related to Diversity and Inclusivity, guest speaker presentations from within and outside of UM, lunch catering, a closing ceremony with result presentations and potentially a networking evening activity in the form of a party. WICKED will be a great opportunity for the 200 participating students to gain important knowledge and skills in interdisciplinarity, inclusivity, teamwork and embracing diversity. 

We are looking for input from the UM community and want to encourage students from all UM faculties to be involved in this conference. If you have suggestions or ideas, or would like to participate, please contact us via and follow our Instagram (@wickedum) 

WICKED team picture

Projects for a diverse and more inclusive UM - 2021


“Expats x Migrants”

Segregating the Migrant Community: Exhibit & Dialogue on

The project ‘Segregating the Migrant Community’ invites people to think about and question the distinction made between migrants and expats. The term ‘expat’ is entangled with assumptions of privilege and class, whereas the label ‘migrant’ somehow connotes something lesser, even though both groups consist of people who moved away from their country of origin.

For this project, 20 foreign workers will be selected to be included in a virtual and physical photo exhibit. The exhibit will showcase how individuals who self-identify as migrants and/or expats may not look so different. Additionally, an expert panel will discuss the theme of migrant identity in Maastricht and beyond. During the panel, several topics will be addressed, such as: 1) whether the expat/migrant distinction is justified; 2) whether rooting out this distinction will have any meaningful impact on the acceptance of the migrant community as a whole; and 3) the role of academics and universities in this regard.

The aim of this project is to foster a dialogue on this important issue and to contribute to the inclusion and protection of the migrant community in Maastricht. The long-term impact of this project is the tearing down of obstacles that contribute to the perpetuation of this, potentially arbitrary, socioeconomic segregation. Finally, the photos can be continually used as a learning tool at Maastricht University.

The project is implemented by a diverse team representing five UM faculties in cooperation with Tetsuro Photography and the Expat Centre Maastricht Region.


Team picture Expats x Migrants

Admission procedures

Inclusivity and diversity of bachelor programmes

Participation in higher education enables upward mobility for underprivileged students. However, while enrolment rates into tertiary education increased over the past decades, an increasing number of education institutes have introduced selection procedures. Research shows that selection can be detrimental for specific groups, e.g. students from disadvantaged backgrounds. As a consequence, selection poses a threat to the diversity and inclusivity of study programmes.

The goal of this project is to assess how the admission procedures of bachelor programmes relate to the composition of the student population in terms of inclusivity and diversity. Herewith this project also aims to foster the possibility for the recruitment of (a diverse group of) talented students at the UM.

Within the project, qualitative and quantitative research techniques will be combined to provide in-depth insights into the selection procedures and its relation to the diversity and inclusivity of UM’s bachelor programmes. To interpret the results in a broader perspective, we will analyse register data from Statistics Netherlands to assess whether selection matters for the composition of the student population in bachelor programmes across the Netherlands.

If you want to know more about the project or if you are interested to be part of the project team, then do not hesitate to contact us! The project team consists of Mélanie Monfrance, Melline Somers, Katharina Sicking and Sandro Esposito.


Treat it Queer

Health justice and high-quality health care for the queer community

Treat it Queer is a UM project dedicated to health justice, with a particular focus on the queer community. At Treat it Queer, we believe that queer people deserve safe, comprehensive, and high-quality health care adapted to their unique needs, free from prejudice and discrimination.

We are a group of UM queers and allies that work together to create a more inclusive community of students and teachers where diversity is seen, recognized, and valued. Through trainings and workshops, we seek to cultivate a growing awareness and understanding of the existing health inequities affecting gender and sexually diverse people worldwide, as well as bring greater visibility to the real, lived experiences of queer people in clinical practice, policy, and research.

We aim to do so using an intersectional approach, examining the ways in which different axes of privilege and oppression simultaneously contribute to health inequities. The dismantlement of power dynamics related - and not limited - to gender, race and class is central in our work. Our events address a different theme each time, these include effective allyship, gender inclusive language usage in healthcare, gender nonconformity in reproductive health, mental health needs of the queer community, and intersectional research methods.

 Website    Instagram    Facebook    LinkedIn

Logo Treat it Queer project

Free menstrual products at UM

Ending Period Poverty

Inspired by the new legislation in Scotland and similar developments in New Zealand to end period poverty, our initiative aims at providing free menstrual products for students and staff at Maastricht University. Providing free menstrual products are twofold: it will contribute to a more inclusive environment at UM as it will help to break down the period stigma and support people who have difficulties affording menstrual products. Period products are basic and essential healthcare items, therefore, we believe it is necessary that UM provides these free of charge for those in need.

With the D&I grant, we will carry out a one-year pilot study. This includes providing menstrual products in selected restrooms at several UM faculties. One problem is that menstruation is often deemed shameful, aversive, and unclean which contributes to a vicious cycle of silence: the menstrual taboo. Our initiative aims to effectively break this silence by - next to providing menstrual products - creating an educational campaign on the menstruation stigma. This will include workshops and discussions on the menstrual taboo, the need for increased awareness on menstruation, and the issue of period poverty. A monitoring and evaluation component is also part of the project, aiming to identify the long-term implementation possibilities at UM.

We represent the student organization Feminists of Maastricht. In collaboration with staff members Julia and Pieter and UM building manager Roy, we are confident to take on this important task for next year and we are convinced that providing free menstrual products would make UM a more inclusive university.

 Website   Instagram

Team pictures Free menstrual products

SLIM: Study Counter and Information point Maastricht

Studying without (long-term) poverty is possible!

SLIM, Study Counter and Informationpoint Maastricht, is an information counter located in Pottenberg. Students with a low income from Maastricht University and residents of Pottenberg with a low income and who wish to study can go to SLIM. Clients can ask SLIM for independent information, guidance and advice about their financial situation with the aim of making studying financially and practically possible without (long-term) poverty. SLIM advises for this on regulations drawn up by the state and municipality as well as provisions from local citizens' initiatives, funds and foundations, to reduce non-use of facilities.

SLIM is important because research has shown that 31% of the students have financial concerns and in Pottenberg alone, 46% of the inhabitants do not have a basic qualification. Financial worries and shortcomings lead to stress, feelings of depression, social exclusion, reduced academic performance and early school leaving. Especially when help arrives (too) late. The road to the right help is often a maze, difficult to reach and takes a long time. In short: A much too high threshold for the people who need the help.

SLIM believes that everyone has the right to the opportunity to study without (long-term) poverty. That is why SLIM is committed to supporting students with their financial concerns or shortcomings on the one hand and stimulating citizens to study with the right support on the other. So that everyone can obtain their diploma under human circumstances. Because studying without (long-term) poverty is possible!

 Website   Facebook

Picture Kim Thieme SLIM project

Data Scientist MINDSETS

UM Podcast

The Data Scientist MINDSETS podcast aims to promote seven core values in the UM data science community: Multidisciplinary perspectives, INclusion, Diversity, Social justice, Equity, Trust, and Societal well-being.

The vision of Data Scientist MINDSETS is to promote the visibility, recruitment, and/or retention of traditionally minoritized, marginalized, and underrepresented groups in data science, whether on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, religion or belief system, ability, country of origin, and additional individual characteristics. 

We aim to:

  • feature the career trajectories and profiles of data scientists across the UM community
  • promote principles of justice, equity, diversity, inclusion in all aspects of data science
  • increase awareness of the breadth and depth of this cross-disciplinary field
  • inspire learners to explore how data science can enhance their work/study; and
  • increase knowledge and awareness of key data science data science principles and competencies
  • increase awareness of the need for responsible DS, explainable artificial intelligence, ethical and legal aspects of data science and Findable Accessible Interoperable and Reusable (FAIR) data use

Our podcast episodes will cover UM guest features, trends in data science research, roundtable discussions, coverage and/or live recordings from UM events related to data science. We'll also create a virtual community for data science enthusiasts and friends of data science to keep the dialogue going between episodes.

See the Data Scientist MINDSETS

If you have any questions please contact: Chang Sun or Tiffany Leung

 Website   Instagram   Twitter 

team picture MINDSETS

About not being an Einstein

Giftedness and increasing inclusion

Giftedness is not about being an ‘Einstein’ and having an IQ score above 130. Among students and teachers prejudice exist about giftedness and although the highest concentration of gifted people is found among the population of students in university (10-15%), knowledge about guidance of these students is limited.

Contrary to the stereotypical view of highly intelligent people being successful and happy without any help, this intelligence often comes with doubt, anxiety, depression and loneliness. For many gifted students, coming to university is a struggle as they question their intelligence and even their identity. In fact, giftedness is not only cognitive ability, but it is a set of characteristics including sensitivity, creativity, doubt and perfectionism.

Although the problems encountered by gifted students are often similar to those encountered by their peers, an extra layer of complexity is added because of these characteristics. Their personal well-being and academic performance can be negatively impacted, and therefore a different approach in helping and guiding them is necessary. Understanding of these layers by themselves and by the people in their environment like teachers/mentors, helps them learn how to thrive in (academic) life.

The ultimate long-term goals of this project are:

  1. to increase feelings of inclusion among gifted students by creating more awareness for giftedness among students and UM employees
  2. to enhance individual empowerment, resilience and (academic) performance to support gifted students to develop their talents to their full potential

Our team consists of drs. Anke Smeenk, student adviser FHML, Maartje Cox, student ba Biomedical Sciences, and Melanie Hermans, student ba Biomedical Sciences/Health Sciences. 


Team picture Not being Einstein D&I

Visions for a diverse and inclusive UM - 2020


All for One & One for All

How to stimulate more inclusive research

Participation in scientific research can be difficult or impossible for some groups in our society. As long as certain groups are excluded from research, we will not have a complete understanding of that which we are studying and the societal relevance of research is reduced. This project aims to increase awareness about this topic and gives us the possibility to investigate and disseminate best practices of inclusive research methods. 

In the first part of this project, we will conduct a survey among UM research staff to collect information about which barriers and facilitators are experienced. In the second phase, we will collect best practices of inclusive research methods. In the third phase, we will share the results widely and organize an UM-wide symposium about inclusivity in research. We hope to stimulate critical reflections on current practices, stimulate discussions about challenges and exchange practical, evidence-based steps to overcome them.

This project is a joint collaboration between colleagues from the Faculty of Health, Medicine & Life Sciences (Latifa Abidi, Gera Nagelhout, Hans Bosma, Julia van Koeveringe, Nikita Poole) Faculty of Psychology & Neuroscience (Jessica Alleva), the Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences (Anna-Lena Hoh, Mareike Smolka), ‘Maastricht voor Iedereen’ (Brigitte van Lierop) and IVO Research Institute.


Latifa Abidi and Gera Nagelhout

Diversifying Course Materials

Bringing diversity to the classroom

The body of students and staff at Maastricht University is extremely diverse. However, diversity is rarely at the forefront of course materials. Diversifying our course materials will show our students and teaching staff that Maastricht University not only values diversity, but also strives to make it a central aspect of the teaching and learning process.

This project aims to develop a tool that will give Course Coordinators guidelines and examples on how to make their courses more inclusive and diverse. So that every student and staff member – regardless of their characteristics – feels welcome at Maastricht University and represented in their educational materials.

Our project will consist of 4 phases. In the 1st phase, we will be gathering and analyzing quantitative data concerning the current diversity within course materials. The 2nd phase will consist of qualitative data regarding the current situation and possible changes for the future. In phase 3 these data and ideas will be presented within a tool with guidelines and examples for course coordinators. Phase 4 will be the introduction of this tool within our University, paying special attention to the awareness of the tool among course coordinators.

We are proud to have the opportunity to start this project and hope to bring the issue of diversity to the forefront of the minds of staff and students and provide staff with clear guidance on how to address this.

This project is a joint collaboration between staff and students from the Faculty of Psychology & Neuroscience (Gina van Rossum), Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (Michele Dalla Rosa), Maastricht Science Programme (Chris Pawley), and University College Maastricht (Aincre Maame-Fosua Evans).

Gina van Rossum et al

Feeling Like I’m Faking It

Impostor syndrome among PhD students

Impostor Syndrome is defined as ‘the persistent inability to believe that one's success is deserved or legitimately achieved because of one's own competence, despite objective evidence to the contrary’. Impostor Syndrome is more pronounced among women and members from underrepresented groups (related to e.g. ethnicity, sexual identity, gender identity, or socioeconomic position), and it negatively affects (academic) performance and self-esteem. Further, experiencing Impostor Syndrome increases the likelihood of burnout and mental distress, and may cause individuals to drop out of their pursuit to a PhD degree.

In line with the D&I policy of UM, the ultimate goal of this project is to increase feelings of belonging and inclusion among individuals most at risk for suffering from imposterism, as well as stimulate a positive academic identity and increase their well-being. To this end, we plan to 1) increase our knowledge of the antecedents of impostor syndrome among PhD students across faculties, and 2) pilot-test a micro-intervention (a.k.a. workshop) aimed at reducing imposterism and simultaneously enhancing individual empowerment, hope, optimism, efficacy, and resilience.

Our team consists of dr. Karlijn Massar and dr. Sarah Stutterheim – assistant professors, department of Work & Social Psychology – and two enthusiastic students, Nacho Harutyunyan (Ba Psychology) and Anna Wittich (Ma Human Decision Science).


Karlijn Massar et al

Join an Iftar 2021

Dissolving division lines within the community

The Refugee Project Maastricht (RPM) and the Muslim Student Association Nour (MSA Nour) invite you to join an Iftar during Ramadan 2021. Experiencing an Islamic tradition together creates a sense of community among those who are familiar with the traditions and those who are not. Therefore, you do not need to be Muslim or have much background on Islamic traditions; everybody is invited. 

By interacting with each other through shared food and laughter, we can learn from each other and make an important step towards inclusion and mutual understanding. In the long term, it can contribute to alter the perception of the “Maastricht community”: division lines between the student population and other groups constituting Maastricht’s society could start to dissolve. Having an Iftar together could be a first step in this process. This event will help to spread awareness of Islamic traditions and enable different groups of society to interact.

Thus, a forum for inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue will be created. RPM and MSA Nour believe that experiencing this form of dialogue through a shared Iftar will have a lasting impact on all participants.

RPM and MSA Nour

Implementing an evidence-based sexual assault resistance programme

An inclusive university is a safe university

Sexual assault (that is, penetrative and non-penetrative sexual contact, often obtained by threat, coercion, incapacitation, or lack of affirmative consent) has become an important topic at universities around the world. Research by Rutgers shows the urgency of engaging with this subject at UM: 1 in 5 young, university-aged women in the Netherlands have experienced sexual assault (de Graaf & Wijsen, 2017). One of the ways sexual assault can be decreased is through effective prevention measures. In February 2020, an evidence-based training called the Enhanced Assess, Acknowledge, Act (EAAA) programme was piloted at University College Maastricht. EAAA is a highly interactive course taught by peer students which goes beyond the traditional self-defense course by allowing participants to assess risk based on evidence, discuss common barriers to resistance, practice responding to coercive strategies, and explore personal relationship and sexual values. The pilot was received well by participants, most of whom would strongly recommend the course to a fellow student.  

This D&I grant gives us the possibility to continue to implement EAAA for the wider UM community for the coming two years with the hope of it becoming a sustainable aspect of UM’s prevention activities. 

This project is a joint collaboration between students and colleagues from the Faculty of Science and Engineering (Cecilia Marziali, Bella Rix, Gesa Lange, Alice Wellum), and students and colleagues from the Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience (Esmee Halmans, Elizabeth Adams, Petra Hurks).


EAAA team D&I Grant 2020