German university students hold mass rallies against education reform | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 17.11.2009
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German university students hold mass rallies against education reform

University students across Germany have hit the streets as part of ongoing protests against tuition fees and reforms to higher education. Rallies have been planned in most major German cities.

A banner reading, The Streik goes on, is hung above a man

The rallies are part of a series of strikes against reform

Tens of thousands of German university students launched another day of protests Tuesday in opposition to significant changes that have been made to the country's tertiary education system.

Organizers say around 85,000 students demonstrated in 50 German cities, including Berlin, Freiburg, Hamburg and Cologne.

In Munich, more than 1,000 teachers and students assembled outside Munich University carrying banners that read, "Education is too expensive! What is the cost of stupidity?" and "Welcome to the education factory."

Students from over 20 German universities have been occupying lecture theatres around the clock in protest for days now. Classroom walkouts were also planned in Austria and France.

Tuition fees and degree course reforms

Students and many teachers object to the roughly 100 to 500 euros in tuition fees that a German student pays each semester, as well as to recent Europe-wide reforms designed to push students through their studies more quickly. The changes have also seen the complicated introduction of US-style bachelor's and master's degrees.

The president of the German Universities Association, Bernhard Kempen, encouraged students' opposition to the new qualifications, saying the complaints were wholly justified.

Education Minister Annette Schavan said she understood the reason for the students' grievances, acknowledging that mistakes had been made in the conversion of old course formats into the new bachelor's and master's structures.

The head of the conference of state education ministers, Henry Tesch, said the onus was now on German universities to correct and fine-tune converted curricula.

The protests mark a high point in what is being referred to as "Education Strikes 2009", with another week of demonstrations planned from Nov. 30.

Editor: Michael Lawton

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