Maastricht University (UM) is known for its Problem-Based Learning system and international orientation. Our small-scale ‘international classroom’ brings together people from all over the world who have different backgrounds and perspectives. And it’s these very differences that make the UM learning experience unique.
Our study programmes, too, are internationally oriented. They are focused on helping you get the best out of yourself and preparing you as well as possible for your future career, be it here or anywhere else in the world. Indeed, Maastricht is often said to feel like a little piece of ‘abroad’ right here in the Netherlands. Together with the many study-abroad opportunities enjoyed by our students, this makes studying at UM a truly international experience.
The main mission of education at Maastricht University (UM) was, is and will be the integrated academic and professional development of the student. Teaching and learning therefore focus on both the academic and personal development of the student.
Education at UM is based on four pillars:
Problem-Based Learning (PBL) offers you a different way of learning from traditional university education. You work in small tutorial groups, engage in hands-on training and attend (far) fewer lectures. Under the supervision of a tutor, you team up with ten to fifteen students to tackle real-life challenges. PBL is an active way of learning that gives you better retention of knowledge, enhances your motivation and encourages you to develop skills that are essential for the labour market in the 21st century. In short: PBL is all about you, your tutors are very approachable and you learn together in a dynamic way, helping form you into an assertive professional.
Advantages of PBL
One of the big advantages of PBL is that you learn to solve complex problems. This is, according to the World Economic Forum, one of the most important skills for your future. But you learn more 'skills for life’? Research shows that PBL teaches you to:
Read more about Problem-Based Learning.
in PBL you decide, together with your fellow group members, what knowledge you will need
your group is supervised and guided by a tutor or lecturer
you learn skills that will stand you in good stead later
you engage actively with the subject matter, enabling you to absorb it better
PBL has been at the heart of UM ever since the university was founded
complex problem solving is the number 1 skill for your future, according to the World Economic Forum
A pleasant introduction to PBL
For most first-year bachelor’s and master’s students, studying at Maastricht University means the beginning of a new life with a different way of studying, in a city most of them don’t know.
To make the transition to your new academic and social environment as smooth as possible, UM organises introduction days at the beginning of every academic year: the INKOM general introduction week and the faculty introduction days. During those first days at the faculty, you’ll be introduced to Problem-Based Learning and you’ll learn more about the faculty, about your programme, your teachers and fellow students.
The majority of our programmes embrace international themes and are taught either entirely or partly in English. Our academic staff are also highly diverse, with over 40% coming from abroad. Further, each year UM welcomes over 1,000 foreign exchange students, while approximately 40% of our own students participate in study-abroad programmes. Thanks to our many partner universities, Maastricht University puts the world at your feet.
To make best use of this diversity, UM has embraced the concept of the ‘international classroom’. This is a long-term project encompassing many activities and initiatives, but it is also a mindset among students and staff. The learning process benefits when students work in small tutorial groups with people from different cultural backgrounds: by approaching problems from a variety of perspectives, students are acquainted with different ways of seeing things that enhance the quality of the discussion. In this way, the ‘international classroom’ serves to prepare students for the rapidly changing and globalising market.
Read more about the International Classroom.
Over 50% of our students and more than 40% of academic staff come from abroad
with over 100 nationalities, UM is home to the most international student body in the Netherlands
Approx. 40% of our students go on an exchange: the highest percentage of all Dutch universities
Over 1,000 incoming exchange students
diversely composed PBL tutor groups
most study programms are offered either fully or partly in English
“The international classroom creates a space for you to connect with different realities and perspectives on both an academic and a social level. If the atmosphere is informal and you’re in the room with open-minded people, as most of us in Maastricht are, it really works. You connect with one another and you hear perspectives on solving problems that you’d never imagined before. For example, what human rights means to me can differ from what it means to a German, or someone from China. Or the question whether the burqa should be criminalised. Unconsciously, you develop skills that I think will be very beneficial for a future career.”
master’s student in Globalisation and Law
“I first experienced the international classroom as a student, and now I’m teaching in addition my research. In all roles I’ve learnt a lot from the intercultural experience. You learn that there’s no one right or wrong. And you learn different perspectives on topics in an intercultural setup like the International Classroom.”
PhD student in Philosophy and Arts & Culture alum
“Students from all over the world learn together in small, diverse groups by solving problems which often correspond to real problems in society. But they also learn from one another: the diversity of backgrounds leads to a diversity of viewpoints, and that enriches the learning experience enormously. In the globalising world we live in today, it’s also of crucial importance to be able to work together with all kinds of people and develop an open mind. Those are the kinds of skills you learn here in Maastricht.”
Prof. dr. Martin Paul
president of Maastricht University
UM links the content of its programmes with the academic research process and with making connections to society. You will study relevant, real-life problems and situations during the tutorial groups and skills trainings. This will help you develop excellent research skills and a true research attitude.
In the university's view, the integration of research and education is also the best way to utilise the passion that already exists—the passion of researchers for what they are good at and the passion of students for gaining new experiences and for focusing on relevant social issues. In concrete terms, this means, among other things, that students can participate in scientific research from the very start.
More interdisciplinary programmes
UM has, with the introduction of CORE (Collaborative Open Research Education) in the current strategic programme, reaffirmed its ambition to strengthen the connections between research and education in its study programmes. Students are being offered more interdisciplinary programmes and activities for both research and education. And the ties with local, regional and international partners are strengthened.This is the best way to come up with solutions for today’s most pressing social problems.
CORE is being implemented from 2017 to 2021, which is the duration of the current strategic programme entitled: 'Community at the CORE'.
“Students shouldn’t start to think that the world falls into the categories that scientists have come up with; that everything is a natural sciences or chemistry problem. Because there you are with your aspirin, which isn’t a miracle panacea. The world doesn’t fit into clear boxes.”
Tsjalling Swierstra, professor of Philosophy of Technology at Maastricht University
Read the full interview with Prof Swierstra
As a student, you will be encouraged to make the most of your time studying in Maastricht, to do something extra that can enrich your life here and beyond. Of course, the bachelor's and master's programmes are the primary focus and we are committed to providing you with the best preparation for the labour market. In addition, UM offers all kinds of curricular, co-curricular and extracurricular activities. UM strives to educate its students to become socially responsible and critical global citizens who are well-prepared for the national and international labour market.
You can participate in excellence and honours programmes, join a student or study association or take a language course at the Language Centre, for instance. You can also participate in activities that will increase your chances in the labour market, such as training courses and workshops or even drawing up a career plan during your studies.
In addition to these study-related activities, there are many other activities and student initiatives that students can engage in both within and outside the university, such as the Refugee Project Maastricht, MATCH and the ImpactLab. All of these activities and experiences are part of the Maastricht University Student Experience.
UM offers science, technology and engineering and mathematics (STEM)* education in various fields, and we do it just a little differently from others. We have the only natural science programme in the liberal arts and sciences tradition in the Netherlands, where undergraduate students can create their own curriculum by combining courses in biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics; Maastricht Science Programme.
In the bachelor programme Data Science and Artificial Intelligence you can gain valuable work experience through the honours programme KE@Work . Here you spend 50% of your time on education and 50% working in businesses (like Vodafone and Medtronic) on academically challenging business cases.
In addition, some of our teaching is done on the Brightlands Chemelot Campus in Geleen, among the offices of many of Limburg’s industrial leaders. How will our students make a difference in the future? That's what drives our curriculum.
*In Dutch this is known as ‘bèta’
At Maastricht University, we are continually working to improve our PBL educational methodology and to come up with new and innovative educational concepts. We even have an office that is exclusively dedicated to educational innovation: EDLAB. EDLAB is responsible for supporting UM instructors in teaching, coming up with new teaching methods, helping UM instructors and examination committees improve assessment procedures, and managing Maastricht University’s excellence programmes.
Read more about EDLAB
Maastricht University (UM) has built a solid reputation, and is today considered one of the best young universities in the world. UM consistently earns top positions in various national and international rankings.
If you’re still figuring out where you want to study and want to compare the programmes offered at multiple universities, then it’s good to know how the programmes and universities score in national and international rankings. Or if you’re looking into becoming a researcher or applying for a position as a lecturer, for example, the national and international rankings can provide useful information. It’s also helpful to know how the quality of a programme or university is assessed by national and international accreditation organisations.
Read more about rankings and accreditations.