Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Tuition fees: no alternative?

Ireland used to have tuition fees. Then it scrapped them. There's an admin fee of a between €500-1500 which is a sneaky way to charge students, but it's nothing compared with the UK, and it's not bad considering the country is totally bankrupt.

What about a rich, successful country? Well, Germany is everybody's idea of success. They brought in tuition fees a few years ago: and now they're scrapping them.

A spokesman for the Social Democrats said: "Tuition fees keep young people from low-income families from studying and are socially disruptive."
Unlike in England, where student fees have cross-party support, the idea has never taken hold in Germany. "There is a tradition here that education is free from beginning to end, and that is very difficult to change," Fischer said.
Sören Faika, president of the Asta student union at Hamburg, said a free education for all, up to university level, was part of the treasured "Humboldtian" ideal, named after 19th-century education reformer Wilhelm von Humboldt.
"Part of that ideal is that you can study what you are passionate about, and education is free for all so that no one is excluded," he said. "When we look at the UK, it is crazy. You may think we are lucky, but it is a different situation."  
The German fees were nothing compared with the UK - get a load of this:

At Hamburg University students currently pay €750 a year, reduced from €1,000 a year when fees were first introduced in 2007 after persistent student protests, and coalition bargaining. Government grants of up to around €600 a month for students from low-income families are common.

There will be hard decisions to make about funding, but the principle is sound. Rich kids' parents can pay off the fees for them: poor people don't have the family resources to get into so much debt and get a mortgage, start a family and all the other expenses that young adults face. Still, it keeps you working obediently for capitalism, doesn't it. Heads down and don't ask questions!

"And if Germany cannot afford to let its students study Egyptology or Hungarian literature – then where can?"

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