Less than a year after the British government realised that the hike in tuition fees accomplished absolutely nothing besides landing students in more debt, Germany has decided to abolish fees for all universities. What's the German word for "deep regret at choosing the wrong place of study, tinged with envy and bitterness"?
Lower Saxony is the final German state to scrap tuition fees, meaning that all German universities are free of charge for all students – and yes, that includes overseas students.
"Tuition fees are socially unjust," Dorothee Stapelfeldt, senator for science in Hamburg, told the Times. The state scrapped fees in 2012. "They particularly discourage young people who do not have a traditional academic family background from taking up studies. It is a core task of politics to ensure that young women and men can study with a high quality standard free of charge in Germany."
German universities were allowed by law to start charging fees in 2006, when a constitutional court decided that moderate fees combined with loans did not violate the country’s commitment to universal higher education. Most schools only charged relatively low amounts of around €1,000 a year (£845) – but that didn't stop state governments from changing their mind after eight years.
"There is a tradition here that education is free from beginning to end, and that is very difficult to change," Hamburg University vice-president Dr Holger Fischer explained.
According to Fischer, abolishing fees is a "catastrophe" as it allowed universities to "improve the teaching and infrastructure". But it's good news for university students who are about the start the new autumn term in Germany, free of charge.
Meanwhile, the price of attending British universities has soared by almost 8%, with students now facing bills of £54,000 for a three-year undergradate degree. Maybe it's time to move to Germany to pursue that degree? I hear Hamburg is great this time of the year.
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