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Voormalig OCW-topambtenaar Ferdinand Mertens noemt het 'absurd' en 'maatschappelijk onverantwoord' dat universiteiten en hogescholen in Duitsland studenten werven om op Nederlandse kosten te komen studeren.

Als voorbeeld noemt hij de internationale campus van Fontys in Venlo, die negen Duitstalige opleidingen aanbiedt en die actief werft onder Duitse jongeren. Met internationalisering heeft dit niets te maken, stelt de voormalig inspecteur-generaal van het onderwijs in vakblad Transfer. Naar verwachting studeren er over drie jaar 40 duizend Duitsers in Nederland.

“Je kunt deze zaak niet langer op zijn beloop laten”, waarschuwt Mertens. Alleen de instellingen profiteren volgens hem van het binnenhalen van EU-studenten. De overheid betaalt, waardoor het gemiddelde budget voor per student omlaag gaat.

Behalve Fontys bieden ook Saxion Hogescholen, de Groningse Hanzehogeschool en de Hogeschool van Arnhem en Nijmegen Duitstalige opleidingen aan die uitsluitend voor Duitsers bedoeld zijn. Maar hij verwijst ook naar de Universiteit Maastricht, de grootste Duitse universiteit buiten Duitsland, die ook actief in het Verenigd Koninkrijk werft nu de collegegelden daar drastisch worden verhoogd. De instellingen verkopen hun beleid onder het mom van europeanisering en wie daar kanttekeningen bij plaatst wordt volgens Mertens weggezet als bekrompen denker.

Mertens geldt als de architect van het grenslandenbeleid (‘Internationalisering op de fiets’) dat in de jaren negentig ontwikkeld is. Hij zegt altijd te hebben gewaarschuwd dat het grensoverschrijdende verkeer geen ongewenste financiële gevolgen moest hebben.

Een kostendekkend collegegeld is op langere termijn de enige werkbare oplossing voor het probleem, oppert Mertens in Transfer.

The stage is set and the curtains part. The atmosphere is electric with the stage illumination. The sight of a packed auditorium causes an adrenalin rush to his limbs as he walks out. In a few minutes he will captivate and amaze the audience like never before. Welcome the mentalist. The kind of magic he is about to perform is unlike what people are used to. He deals with the magic of the mind. The borderline between imagination and reality is a fine one and over the course of the show he will take his audience on a journey across that border. There are no props, smoke, mirrors, or tight leather pants – this is mentalism in its rawest, finest and purest form.Before going on, think of any double-digit odd number from 1 to 50, but make sure it is made up of two different odd digits. So, something like 13 would work, but 11 would not.

What is mentalism and is there really a science behind it? When the two come together, the outcome can be truly unbelievable. There exists many patented mechanical masterpieces which aid performers: boxes which seem opaque but in reality are completely transparent, tools that let you discern what is written down on a piece of paper 50 feet away. Most of these are designed by people with a scientific background and armed with a brilliantly creative mind. Mentalism is also a performing art; some call it a subset of magic, while others prefer to consider it a separate domain. Practitioners are known as mentalists and their routines could involve mind reading, mind control, clairvoyance, psychokinesis and suggestion. The acts are usually highly theatric and present the illusion of mind reading. However, everything must have an explanation, right? In all likelihood it does, but the greatness of a performer lies in his ability to suspend the disbelief of his audience.

The human mind is a wonderful but untapped mystery that always springs serendipitous surprises upon human beings. Science is progressing fast, unraveling the mysteries that surround this blisteringly quick and powerful organ. Magic and mentalism take advantage of the lack of knowledge on this front and play around by crossing the boundaries of reason and cognition. Performing is not simply about mastering the technical aspect of effects; it requires a very good understanding of how the human mind works. Mentalists do not depend on anything supernatural, but their presentation could suggest such abilities. It usually involves leading the audience to mismatch the cause and effect, to form one false hypothesis after the other.

The mind is intelligent but also easy to lead astray. Think about young children being lured by chocolates. As time goes on, this tendency to be distracted by sweets is overcome. However, there are many more ways to direct or redirect a person’s attention – and that’s the powerful technique known as misdirection. With simple, directed gazes, carefully timed gestures, and verbal cues, a performer can literally pull his audience around like they’re on a leash without them realizing it. Yet, a good artist will not leave his audience feeling like fools, but leave them in a state of wonder and amazement after experiencing something that they never thought possible. And once they realize it, that’s when they’re completely blown away, when the mentalist tells them that the number they were thinking of was 37n.

Experience an ‘Incredible Evening Inside Your Mind’ – a complete stage magic and mentalism show by Arvind on June 4th at the Cultural Center. More info: arvindjshankar.com

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