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Catriona O’Sullivan


2nd Year – BA (Hons) Liberal Arts & Sciences – Major in Philosophy

I first decided to look abroad for university as I wanted to be exposed to different cultures, languages and approaches to studying.

The ‘PBL’ teaching format puts far more emphasis on engaging with the study material, rather than passively having pre-conceived knowledge ’poured’ into you. The classes are small and academic discussion is key. I tend to empathise with the expression: ‘How can I tell you what I think until I’ve heard what I’m going to say?’ – I find debate and discussion an extremely helpful tool in really tussling with, and understanding, difficult concepts.

Liberal Arts degrees are very well established in Europe and worldwide, as opposed to the UK.  Taught within a separate faculty, University College Maastricht (UCM) is notably tricky to get into, with a higher and more intensive workload. Liberal Arts allows me to take modules in various disciplines whilst studying a ‘major’ or ‘specialist’ subject to a high level.  This intensive study environment, the flexibility of subject choice, small classes, international location and cross-cultural community all seemed to fit me perfectly.


Tom Shortland


3rd  Year – BA (Hons) Liberal Arts & Sciences – Major in Politics and Economics

When I was seventeen I was fortunate enough to attend a United World College in Costa Rica. I thoroughly enjoyed the international setting and I felt that University College Maastricht would mirror that international focus. I also chose UCM because I found the PBL method and small class sizes attractive, in contrast to the large lecture-hall approach that is more common in British universities.

Admittedly I have to work harder at UCM than I would perhaps have to in my first year studying in the UK. However, I do enjoy the academic challenge that this presents. I am currently focusing on economics whilst also taking several politics courses. I like the fact that I can pursue my interest in economics whilst also taking other courses that relate to the topic.

There is a real “college” atmosphere present at UCM. The societies at the college organise multiple events throughout the year. For example, the theatre society organized a production of Alice in Wonderland, whilst the Orchestra and Choir put on a Christmas concert. As such, UCM is not a place where students just attend classes. The benefit of UCM though is that you have a strong community within the college whilst you are also able to interact with the city as well because you don’t live on a campus.

At UCM I study courses that interest and challenge me with students from around the world. I experience the benefits of the community feeling felt at a campus university whilst at the same time the greater independence afforded by living off campus. I believe that UCM provides a stimulating, challenging and international environment whilst preparing me for my future. After UCM, I hope to study for a masters in Economics.


Leia Achampong


Msc. Sustainability Sciences and Policy

My decision to come to the Netherlands was inspired by my desire to become a sustainability water quality researcher who contributes to policy. I did my Masters in the Netherlands to understand maritime sustainability from the cultural perspective of the Dutch. As a rich seafaring nation with a robust water industry, I thought that this would be the best place for me in Europe to develop my skills. I came here looking for personal development, and UM has also allowed me to hone my skills for professional employment, by way of the Premium Honours programme.

I have thoroughly enjoyed the influencing factor of mixing with the different personalities and backgrounds in our tutorial discussions. The PBL system is used here, and I was not used to the monthly exams, almost nightly reading assignments, or the weekly coursework and presentations. Yet I came to love this structure, it felt more like a journey of learning to me, and in the end, I felt more knowledgeable about my discipline. Studying abroad has been an excellent way for me to develop personally and creatively in a safe, yet competitive environment.