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Tuition fees about to be imposed in Germany

Haivas, IrenaReid, Katie. Student BMJ; London Vol. 13,  (Mar 2005). DOI:10.1136/sbmj.050392a

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German students may have to pay tuition fees after the High Court ruled that individual states have the right to introduce fees.

The decision reached by the Federal Constitutional Court on 26 February, which overturned the ban on tuition fees introduced by the Social Democrat Party (SDP) led ruling coalition two years ago, opened the way for states to start charging students.

Bavaria may try to introduce fees by the end of the year. Hamburg, Baden-Wurttemberg, Lower Saxony, and Saarland are also keen to start charging students. In Baden-Wurttemberg students may have to pay by spring in 2006, according to a weekly news magazine, Der Spiegel.

But the economics minister in Saarland, Jurgen Schreier (Christian Democratic Union), said that there would be no tuition fees until scholarships were available, and he said he would put "thoroughness and social balance before speed."

SDP Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has warned the states that the introduction of fees could deter students. At a pre-election party conference in Husum, Schleswig-Holstein, on 2 February, he said that Germany didn't need fewer students, but more.

SDP education minister Edelgard Bulmahn urged states not to make students pay for education and told them "not to act rashly but to make sure that pupils from lower income families can still study in our country."

10'000 students protested against the introduction of tuition fees in various towns and cities across Germany. Students are concerned about how fees will be used by the universities.

Marion Csiky, spokesperson for the Ministry of Science, Research and Arts in Baden-Wurttemberg told the Student BMJ , that the introduction of fees will raise the quality of the university system. She added that the additional money will improve the number of seminars and faculty members can be better adjusted. "Students will be able to take loans,...