Member in the picture: Maastricht University / UM SPORTS

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Maastricht & UM Sports in 10 figures


Amount (#) of inhabitants city 122 533
2 Amount (#) of students city / university 16 861 (2016-2017)
3 Total surface (m²) indoor facilities (University owned) 6 610m²
4 Amount (#) of staff members university (total) 4 734 (2015)
5 Amount (#) of staff members in sports 135 (2016)
6 Participation rate (%) students 29% ( < 31.01.2017)
7 Participation rate (%) staff 7% ( < 31.01.2017)
8 Amount (#) of classes organised on a weekly basis 54 different activities; 330 classes
9 Annual subscription price (€) (paid by student) €83 – €182 (depending on package)
10 Percentage (% or €/student) of the total annual budget provided by the University


Link to sports programme and timetables:
Link to pricing:


Introduction For our January feature University Sports Centre, we are travelling to Maastricht in the Netherlands where ENAS is also attending the kick-off meeting of the ‘Active Campus Europe’ project. The ACE project brings together 15 European Universities around project lead RWTH Aachen in a never before seen collaboration in the University context on a European scale. The project aims to develop a best practice handbook and common intervention to support the target of health promotion activities in the University context. All this happens with a clear focus on motivating inactive people to take start a more active life. The Maastricht University sport department, UM SPORTS, is very committed to this objective. This year they are celebrating the first anniversary of the brand new sports building. Their goal: creating an environment that stimulates not only to do sports but to take on an active lifestyle more generally. And it is spectacular. Just outside the main entrance, just across from the University hospital in a south-east neighbourhood of Maastricht called Randwijck, it is clear that we are in the Netherlands, hundreds of bikes and plenty more possibilities to park your two wheel go-everywhere vehicle. This is where we are kindly welcomed by Birgitte Hendrickx, Head UM SPORTS and Netty Bekkers, Department Head Customer Management & Communication UM SPORTS, who indicate that they also commute by bike on a daily basis, even today. It is -4°C, not very usual in the most southern point of the Netherlands, and roads look dangerously slippery. Maastricht is a small city, more of a combination of villages if we can believe our hosts, but boasts the European atmosphere. Heimat of the mother of all European Treaties, the Maastricht Treaty celebrating its 25th birthday, we are in the right place to celebrate European wide collaboration. And that is not a surprise as the neighbouring cities to Maastricht are located across country borders in Belgium (Hasselt and Liège) and Germany (Aachen). Birgitte and Netty explain what they are proud of in UM Sports and where they are still looking to improve.
What are you most proud of in UM SPORTS? “That’s an easy one.”, says Birgitte, “It has to be the combination we have created between studying, social activities and sports here in the UM SPORTS Centre. One year in, we feel that we have really been able to develop a cross-over within the student services with a building with multiple functions and a very welcoming and open atmosphere. People stay here the entire day: they use the learning spaces to study or work on group tasks, go for a sports break and have lunch in the Time Out Sports café.”
Was that a coincidence or part of the planning process? “The Sports Centre is a combination of an old and a new building, which have been joined together. The Time-out Café is situated in the centre (large hallway) to connect one with the other. We have kept this as open as possible and added a lot of windows to make the sports venues more connected to other areas. The old building was an office building. This means that whereas most projects end up with lack of space at the end of the building process: we had space left, office space to be precise. This space was partly transformed into the UM SPORTS offices, an Exercise Studio and a Body and Mind Studio but for the remainder of the space we decided to sit down with the student services department. This is where we developed this idea of learning spaces and it became a big hit. Although we have never advertised the possibility to work here, students have found their way.”
So how did you convince the University to make this facility investment? “We didn’t. The students did. We are proud to have a great collaboration with the students and they are a very important part of the UM SPORTS team. They rallied because they believed investing in sport facilities was important. We are just here to make it happen.”
So what is happening in 2017? “One year in our new building, we are at the end of a Business Plan, so our goal for 2017 is strategic renewal and further development and optimalisation of the organisational structures of UM SPORTS. The most important aspect of this, is to further develop UM SPORTS as an essential service provider in the University context, not only from the point of view of sports, but as an integral part of the entire University experience. This is very much in line with the ACE project to develop and active and healthy University environment for all rather than looking at the ones who are already involved in sports. Also there, we still have a great challenge ahead: getting the inactive involved, I’m sure we are not alone there.”
Would that be the greatest challenge you are facing? Reaching out to the inactive? [laughs] “I’m afraid my answer is more boring than this: our greatest challenge is finance. We continuously have to fight to keep our extensive programmes affordable for the students and feasible from an organisational point of view on the UM SPORTS side.”
What’s affordable? How much do the students pay on an annual basis? “We have chosen to let the students pay for what they receive based on the type of activities they are interested in. On top of a basic ‘Sign-Up’ membership they can either opt for the ‘Sports’ and/or ‘Gym’ add-on. The membership fees also lower with each month into the academic year so we don’t give students any reason to postpone their active ambitions into the new semester or year. The most complete package for students costs €182 on an annual basis. Separate price categories also exist for UM staff and alumni and a group of defined external UM relationships. There is no further access for external members.”
Can you phrase one advice for our fellow ENAS members: “It’s not the building but the human capital inside it that makes the difference”
And what does this mean for you? “We are very proud and fortunate to have been able to develop great facilities which support us to develop a great programme. But also before we had these facilities, we were doing great things because we can rely on an incredibly passionate team to develop the sports programmes. The students are an integral part of this team and we try to reflect the entire University community male/female, foreign/Dutch, into this team.
And then finally: what do you want to ask your ENAS colleagues? In the context of continuous internationalisation, we are very interested to learn more about the cultural differences that exist in the European and broader context. The Maastricht University has recently hit a very interesting number: 51% of the students come from abroad. We are very interested to learn what these percentages look like in other Universities and what kind of measures are taken to adapt to this international reality?

Contact persons:

Birgitte Hendrickx Netty Bekkers




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