Germany has recently taken the decision to abolish tuition fees for higher education across the country. This is following a vote in Lower Saxony, the last of Germany’s states to charge for tuition. Both national and international students are covered by the new policy, and understandably, they’re rather happy about the decision.
According to topuniversities.com, Germany is now the fourth most popular country to study in after America, the UK and Australia. In scrapping the fees they now join the likes of Finland, Austria, Norway, and of course, Scotland.
Whilst tuition has traditionally been free across most of Germany, following a ruling from the country’s Constitutional Court in 2006, some universities chose to charge their students for tuition. Many quickly went back on this decision after it proved unpopular, and of those who continued to charge tuition fees, the cost was typically considerably low – roughly 500€ a semester, compared to up to £9,000 a year in England.
Hamburg’s senator for Science, Dorothee Stapelfeldt, called tuition fees “socially unjust”, and said that ensuring young people have access to free, high-quality university education is a “core task of politics”. These sentiments are echoed by Alex Salmond, Scotland’s First Minister, who also advocates free university tuition.
At Scottish universities, both Scottish students and EU students have their tuition fees paid for them, meaning that more and more people are able to go to university regardless of income. This is obviously hugely beneficial, given recent findings suggesting the UK is quickly becoming one of the most unequal societies in the developing world. Providing free tuition should be something that the rest of the UK should be aiming to achieve in order to reduce this inequality.
Whilst there are some concerns over tuition-free universities (namely that it will become financially unsustainable and that the quality of education being delivered will decrease), these worries are often unfounded – some of the best universities in the world can be found in tuition-free countries, *cough* Glasgow Uni *cough*…
[Hannah Burke – @hannahcburke_]