Vincent Maessen (24, the Netherlands), International and European Tax Law
Halfway through the programme, studying felt more like a hobby than an obligation

“After my bachelor’s degree in Fiscal Economics, I had a hard time deciding on a master’s programme. Professor Van den Hurk, who specialises in Corporation Tax at the Faculty of Law, suggested that I take a look at this programme, and it immediately struck a chord with me. I wanted to move beyond the borders of the Dutch tax system into an international environment, and that’s exactly what this programme offers.

Halfway through the programme, studying felt more like a hobby than an obligation. The material was interesting and the lecturers were very inspiring. Take Professor Van Doessum - he’s an expert on VAT, which is a highly complex field. But even after 25 years he’s still so passionate about it. I have to admit I’m a bit jealous of that.

All the courses in this programme have an international flavour, which means that as a graduate you’re a sort of jack-of-all-trades in the area of international tax. That opens up a wealth of possibilities, and employers are eager to hire these students. About half of my fellow students had already landed a job before the programme even ended. By the time I was halfway through I had several offers as well. The student association organises an annual International Job Fair where big multinationals come to give presentations, and there’s a low threshold for getting into a dialogue with them. KPMG, where I currently work as an international tax adviser in Luxembourg, went to the fair with the goal of finding at least ten candidates and hiring half of them. All the new people in my unit are graduates of this UM programme.

I spent a year on the board of the internship agency Integrand. There I already noticed that Maastricht students have an advantage over students from other universities. One company was looking for a student with an average mark of at least seven out of ten, but if the student was from Maastricht, it was allowed to be a six. Their reasoning was that students from Maastricht take a more practical approach and are able to add value to the organisation more quickly.

More and more universities are starting to offer Problem-Based Learning, but my impression is that the quality at UM is higher. By focusing on the practical implications of your knowledge, you go beyond the traditional education model. During tutorials I sometimes had the feeling that I was in a boardroom with colleagues and we actually had to make strategic decisions. That sense of professionalism so early on – right from the first year, in fact – is what makes education at UM special.

I was given a case to solve during my job interview, and that same case study had come up several times during the programme. So I literally owe my job to Problem-Based Learning.”

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