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Tuition Fees for German Students?

DW staff (win)August 2, 2004

Members of Germany's governing coalition believe university students might soon have to pay tuition fees, a plan the opposition favors. Germany's highest court is expected to rule on a tuition ban later this year.

Students across Germany have been protesting against tuition feesImage: AP

Unlike their colleagues in Britain or the US, German students don't have to pay tuition fees for a college degree -- at least not yet. But that might change should judges at Germany's constitutional court side with several German states who want to introduce fees to cover rising costs.

While a decision is still months away, the debate swelled up again last week after high court judges threw out a federal law that made it easier for young academics to become professors, arguing that it was up to individual states to reform the university system.

"After last week's ruling, I expect the nationwide ban on tuition fees to fall as well," Krista Sager, the parliamentary group leader of the Greens, the government's junior coalition partner, told Berliner Zeitung on Monday. She added that politicians had to think about new loan and scholarship options to help students cover the additional costs.

Jörg Tauss, an education expert for the ruling Social Democrats in parliament, also told the paper that he believed a ban on fees would soon be a thing of the past.

"The tuition fee ban is on the verge (of getting abolished)," he told the paper.

Opposition Christian Democrats meanwhile are hoping that the court will rule in favor of tuition fees -- about €1,000 ($1,200) per year, Jörg Dräger, the cabinet minister responsible for education in Hamburg's city state government, told FOCUS newsmagazine.

In cooperation with other conservative-led states, Dräger, who is not a member of the Christian Democrats but serves under a Christian Democratic mayor, is currently coming up with a financing model.