On the challenges faced by a young university 1976 - 2016

Anniversary book: The Maastricht Experiment

At the end of December, the book The Maastricht Experiment. On the challenges faced by a young university 1976 – 2016, written by historian dr. Annemieke Klijn will be published on the occasion of Maastricht University’s 40th anniversary. The new university, founded in 1976 as the State University of Limburg was expected to promote innovation within Dutch higher education by developing experimental degree programmes – which explains the title, The Maastricht Experiment. The obvious choice for the university was to adopt an international outlook – today, over half of its more than 16,000 students are from outside the Netherlands. As a non-classical university, it had to gain recognition within the existing university system: an effort that also enabled it to grow and acquire a distinct character. Inspiration for educational reform was sought – and found – in Canada and the United States.

Key figures

One of the unique aspects of this young university is that many of the key figures from the very beginning are still alive. In this publication by Annemieke Klijn, 16 of these protagonists accompany the reader on a tour of Maastricht University’s history. What ideals and ambitions did these people bring to Maastricht? To what extent did they manage to really begin with a clean slate? What challenges did they face in expanding the university? What strategies did they use – or was chance a dominant factor? And how did they deal with the tension between seeking to establish an innovative new identity on the one hand, and the wish to be accepted by the university community on the other?

Living heritage

This book came about on the initiative of Maastricht University’s Art and Heritage Commission, which considers it its duty to promote not only the institution’s tangible heritage, but also its intangible heritage. Recording the stories of the men and women, who helped give shape to this university can, in somewhat irreverent terms, be considered the cherishing of ‘living heritage’. The publication was supported by the SWOL (Stichting Wetenschappelijk Onderwijs Limburg).


The Maastricht Experiment, published by Vantilt in Nijmegen, will become available in book stores around December 20th at the closing of the jubilee year. During the first three months after publication, there will be a discount of 3 euro per book.

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