Maureen Alkema and Joëlle Tillij received a scholarship from the Kanunnik Salden/Nieuwenhof Foundation to study at the University College Maastricht (UCM). How do they like their studies? Are there any highlights so far? And what would they like to say to other future (scholarship) students? Here is a short Q&A.


How do you like your study? Are there any highlights so far?

Maureen: ‘‘I really enjoy studying at Maastricht University (UM)! Especially the Problem-Based Learning approach appeals to me. By talking about the subject matter with other students and exploring it in-depth, a lot of the learning material sticks in your memory. Another aspect I appreciate is the focus on the development of a critical attitude. This is not only important for the development of research skills, but also for learning to question the world around you. As there is more information circulating today than ever, it is often difficult to distinguish what can be considered reliable and valid. Therefore, it is particularly important that students are educated to detect biased information.

In addition, I enjoy the content of the courses that are provided to us. Although we can choose a variety of subjects from different disciplines at UCM, they always connect in some way. The program encourages us to adopt an interdisciplinary approach, which was particularly evident during the project period. Our task was to write a paper together with other students from different academic backgrounds. I worked with a student who studies politics and art, while I focus on politics and sociology. During the writing project, we merged our disciplines by writing a paper on cultural policy from a sociological and artistic perspective. I am still very proud of this unique paper we wrote together, and this project showed me how important it is to develop a comprehensive view on issues. Especially since problems are often not limited to one particular category, and therefore require multiple fields of knowledge.’’


Joëlle: ‘‘Before starting my studies at UCM I already expected that the programme would be a good fit, and nearly two years later I am happy to say that this is still the case! I am glad that I was able to get a taste of different courses in my first year, which helped me to finally settle on my newly found passion: environmental studies and sustainability. One exciting part of my studies is that I have been accepted into a Double Degree programme with University College Freiburg, meaning I will spend my next year in Germany before returning for a final year at UCM. This opportunity allows me to dive deeper into environmental- and sustainability-related courses, which I am very excited about!’’


How does your study contribute to your plans/ambitions for the future?

Maureen: ‘‘In the future, I would like to work on policy development/analysis and on resolving political and social issues. Given that policies have a direct impact on society, they cannot be implemented without taking human factors into account. Therefore, it is necessary to understand how government institutions influence us as citizens, and in turn, what influence we exert on them from the bottom-up. At UCM, I have the opportunity not only to focus on politics but also to understand these political implications from a sociological perspective. Combining my two favorite disciplines is of great value to me, as it enables me to develop a holistic approach.’’


Joëlle: ‘‘My ambition for the future is to follow a master in the field of sustainability and environmental studies. Clearly, sustainability and climate change are both complex issues that ideally are approached from multiple disciplines. The interdisciplinary character of my bachelor has thus been an ideal preparation for this challenge. It is very interesting and helpful that I am able to study sustainability and the environment from various perspectives,  such as economics, law, and the sciences, within one bachelor.’’


What would you like to say to future scholarship students?

Maureen: ‘‘Before the Kanunnik Salden/Nieuwenhof Foundation scholarship was awarded to me, studying would have been quite a financial challenge. Since this scholarship pays my tuition fees, I have a lot less pressure on my shoulders and can therefore study at university. Hence, I would like to say to all prospective scholarship students that I hope they can also enjoy their study time and not be limited by their financial backgrounds. I, therefore, hope they will try to apply to this unique opportunity because they too deserve access to higher education.’’


Joëlle: ‘‘If you are considering a scholarship, but you are unsure whether you would meet the requirements or would be accepted, I would definitely encourage you to apply! In the best case, you get accepted, while not applying at all will never allow you to know whether or not you’d have gotten in! Studying at UCM and the UM more generally has been a great experience for me, and I hope that many other students will be able to experience this university themselves as well. In other words: be bold, and see what the future brings you!’’


About the Kanunnik Salden/Nieuwenhof Scholarship

As you may know, our fund offers various scholarships on behalf of several organisations. The calls for scholarship students for academic year 2021-2022 are online now on the UM website. To that end, we want to introduce you to the current students. In this edition: Maureen Alkema and Joelle Tillij, who both received a scholarship from the Kanunnik Salden/Nieuwenhof Foundation. 

University College Maastricht is a bachelor’s programme for students that are highly motivated and looking for a programme that gives the freedom to pursue their own interests. The Kanunnik Salden/Nieuwenhof Foundation offers one scholarship to a bachelor applicant to enable local students to study at University College Maastricht. The scholarship is specifically meant for students who have a socio-economic status that makes it difficult to study at a programme that asks a higher tuition fee, such as UCM.

You can find more information about this scholarship on the UM website.