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Foreign students appear to spend more hours studying?

24 December 2005, 17:11

Thaworn Sakunphanit from Thailand started at the Maastricht School of Governance in September, and often spends eighty hours per week with his nose in his books. Zoe Reiff from New York, second-year student of European Studies, studies approximately 35 hours a week.

Thaworn Sakunphanit from Thailand started at the Maastricht School of Governance in September, and often spends eighty hours per week with his nose in his books. Zoe Reiff from New York, second-year student of European Studies, studies approximately 35 hours a week.

Foreign students appear to spend more hours studying than their Dutch colleagues. A recent survey has shown that Dutch students on average study 29 hours per week. Far too little, State Secretary Rutte complained in various daily papers. Not at all, was the reaction from the angry chairperson of the national interest association ISO, Evelien van Roemburg. In addition to studying, today's students also have to earn a living and have their hands full doing committee work.

A round of questions by Observant among ten Dutch students, two weeks ago, proved that almost everybody was up to their necks: studies, jobs, board work, going out, friends, you name it. The number of hours spent studying, however, varied. Not everyone would be pardoned by the Minister of Education. One spends twenty hours at his/her desk, the other thirty. The weekly schedules of regular foreign students look somewhat different.

They spend much more time studying. Masters students at economics, for example, work for more than 44 hours, the survey showed. Students from the Governance School - the study of the design and implementation of policies - cannot even make it with 44 hours, as Thaworn Sakunphanit from Thailand knows.

He regularly reaches eighty hours. With his thumb and index finger he illustrates how thick the readers are, no light reading material but reports from the World Bank or the IMF. "It's too much reading. But you have to, because the exam questions are very detailed." Students from the University College also have a lot to cope with. Third-year Katharina Linz from Germany studies at least forty hours per week. A trip to Amsterdam for a few days is not possible.

She feels that there is always a deadline for a paper or project. Her second-year colleague Mario Sgarrella from Italy studies no more than thirty hours. "Anyone who studies more than forty hours, is a nerd, in my opinion. They sit in the university library for whole days at a time, and in the weekends too, and they do not get around to doing any other things at all. That is a pity because I think that you grow as a person when you do other creative things in addition to your study. I myself love photography and writing novels."

What is striking is that both foreign and Dutch students are busy. German Tobias Franke, second-year student of European Studies, plans everything. "I repaired my bicycle at half past nine this morning; had lessons from eleven until one; one hour lunch break; half an hour conferring with the student fraction of the faculty; followed immediately by a meeting with the faculty council until five o'clock; now this interview and at half past six I will be at a board meeting as president of my fraternity.

I hope to be in bed by about twelve o'clock because I have to be up at seven in order to prepare for my group meeting." He likes to be busy: "Rather busy than lazy. Although I do at times need to rest. During the Christmas holidays I intend to do nothing at all." At the weekends I do not have time for that.

"I do not go home very often because I come from Berlin, which is why I study a lot on Saturdays and Sundays." This applies to many students from abroad: not in the least because there is nothing to do in the city at the weekend. René Verspeek, director of Student Services, is very aware of this and thinks that the university should organise more for foreigners, both during the week and at the weekend.

Examples would be lectures in English, sports activities and international dinners. Verspeek believes that this would encourage foreign students to integrate more in Maastricht's social and cultural life.

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