Small-scale and international

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.
We distinguish ourselves with a challenging learning environment with small and interactive group sessions. Students get to know each other and broaden their social network by working together. They are also encouraged to actively participate in discussions in the educational groups. With better learning results as a result. 

Our students on Problem-Based Learning

Our students on Problem Based Learning - UK - interactive

UM’s Vision on Education

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:

 Please read the Vision on Education of Maastricht University and our Quality agreements.

Problem Based Learnng

Problem-Based Learning  

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:

  • really understand the subject matter, rather just learning by heart
  • collaborate with partners and small teams
  • think critically with a view to solving problems
  • study and work independently
  • feel comfortable with public speaking

 Read more about Problem-Based Learning.  

Fast facts
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

Class of 2021

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.


Education at Maastricht University

International university

Maastricht University (UM) is proud of its international study body. More than 50% of our students come from abroad, making UM the most international university in the Netherlands.

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.

International Classroom
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.

Fast facts
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

Research and education

Research Education

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 research and education
In both our research and education, we like to connect disciplines. We believe that 'integral' and 'interdisciplinary' is key: it's the best and fastest way to actually solve current issues in our society. We therefore pay extra attention to this in our strategic programme for the period 2022 - 2026. For example, we want to expand our education portfolio, in the fields of STEM (science, technology and engineering and mathematics) as well as medical, social and humanities. Again, of course, with the connection between those domains, via our Sciences+ concept.

The strategic programme for 2022-2026 is called 'Maastricht University - The European university of the Netherlands'.

“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

Excellence and honours programmes

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 STEM programmes

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’


Education innovation: EDLAB

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.

UM is the ninth best Young University in the world

Times Higher Education 2022 Young Universities Ranking

Distinctive quality feature for internationalisation

European Consortium for Accreditation in higher education (ECA)