Germany’s great tuition fees U-turn (timeshighereducation.co.uk)

Why did Germany introduce tuition fees in the first place? The answer, in short, is that politicians favoured the idea. Self-styled “modernisers” had been advocating tuition fees since German reunification in 1990.

Seven out of 10 states in west Germany introduced fees in 2006 or 2007; an eighth, Bremen, was prevented from doing so by a lawsuit. Only two – Rheinland-Pfalz and Schleswig-Holstein – resisted the tide completely.

Yet within a single electoral cycle, their long-sought policy was comprehensively overturned. The only state still charging tuition fees in 2014, Lower Saxony, will cease to do so at the end of this academic year.

What immovable object blocked this seemingly irresistible force? The answer, in a word, is democracy. In Hesse, for instance, students protested en masse, a citizens’ initiative collected 70,000 signatures, and the ruling Christian Democratic Union party, fighting for re-election in 2008, reversed course in order to retain power. Tuition fees then unravelled at almost the same speed as they had been stitched up. Those state governments that followed Hesse’s lead in abolishing fees stayed in power; those that refused were removed from office at the next election.
Článek dál pokračuje v úvaze o tom, že rozdíl v reakcích Němců a Britů na zpoplatnění studia je v tom, že německé univerzity jsou zřizovány jednotlivými zeměmi, lidé je považují za lokální "právo" a jsou častým tématem místních voleb, zatímco britské univerzity jsou zřizované státem a ve volbách se o nich vůbec nemluví.

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