Petition against Bavarian university tuition fees

134 posts in this topic

Posted

 

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A popular petition against university tuition fees is currently taking place across Bavaria. The rules of a Volksbegehren are simple: if ten percent of voters sign the petition at their local town hall during the two-week period then the measure goes to referendum, where a simple majority suffices to win.

 

Tuition fees were introduced in most German states around the mid-2000s but soon reversed in all states apart from North Rhine-Westphalia and Bavaria. Although "only" €500 per semester, the fees abolished the principle of free education and, campaigners argue, once that principle has been broken there is nothing to stop further increases (as has indeed happened in the UK).

 

The alliance against tuition fees in Bavaria encompasses the SPD, die Grüne, Freie Wähler, die Linke and a wide range of student, political, religious and youth groups and trade unions. They have succeeded in launching the Volksbegehren and now need 10% of voters to sign the petition over a ten-day period ending on Wednesday 30 January 2013. This is equivalent to around 940,000 voters. Needless to say, foreigners are not entitled to sign despite living, working, studying and paying taxes here.

 

Of the 12 Volksbegehren held since 1990, only four succeeded in reaching the 10% hurdle. Of those, three went on to win the resulting referendum. The last, and most successful, Volksbegehren was held in 2009 for the banning of smoking in pubs and restaurants. 13.9% of voters signed the petition and the referendum was won with 61% of the votes.

 

On the first day of signature collection (Thursday), 0.5% of voters signed the petition across Bavaria. Were this rate to continue then the initiative would fall some way short of the 10% hurdle. However, the snowy conditions on Thursday as well as the tendency for the rate to pick up significantly towards the end of the collection period (the no-smoking petition gathered around a quarter of all signatures on the final day alone) suggests that this Volksbegehren stands a good chance of success. Nonetheless, please persuade any Germans in your life to sign their names at their local town hall.

 

Volksbegehren in Bavaria

NEIN zu Studienbeiträgen in Bayern

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Posted

 

Nonetheless, please persuade any Germans in your life to sign their names at their local town hall.

 

Or don't as EUR 500 per semester might be well spent money if it results in less students per tutor!

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When I wrote above that NRW was the only other state to levy student fees, I of course meant "Niedersachsen". However, with yesterday's election of a red-green coalition, soon Bavaria will be on its own in charging these fees.

 

The proportion of voters who have so far signed the petition in Munich after the first four days stands at 1.52%. The anti-smoking petition at this stage was already on 2.83%, but the 1997 petition in favour of the abolishment of the Bavarian senate was only on 1.03% and nonetheless ended on 10.5% Bavaria-wide at the end of the two-week collection period.

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Posted

Seven days down and seven days to go and the Bavaria-wide figure stands at 4.34%. As the rate of signatures traditionally increases strongly towards the end, it looks very likely that this petition will reach the 10% hurdle. The graph below comes from two days before the end of the smoking Volksbegehren and shows how things take off towards the end (that one finished on about 13% in Munich). The figures in that chart refer only to Munich (Stadt), where the current figure of 3.70% is below the Bavarian total.

 

Judging by the excitement generated by this thread, interest in the topic among expats in contrast appears to be at around 0.0% of the population. I've decided to stop complaining that as a foreigner I have no vote despite living here and paying taxes here. No point giving the vote to a section of the population so decidedly unconcerned about any of the issues.

 

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Posted

 

I've decided to stop complaining that as a foreigner I have no vote despite living here and paying taxes here.

There´s a petition for that. Basically for the double-citizenship, but the voting thing is the main reason for it for most people.

 

It is open to anybody, not limited to germans. Sign here https://www.openpetition.de/petition/zeichnen_formular/doppelte-staatsbuergerschaft

 

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Posted

it is limited to germans only!

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The Bavaria-wide figure up to last night was 8.61%, making the 10% hurdle by Wednesday evening a formality. It should finish around the 12% mark or even higher, placing it in the select group of successful Volksbegehren.

 

The figure in Munich (compare the graph in post no. 4) is below the state average at 7.96%. The map below shows the stats at Landkreis level, with Oberbayern (7.82%) and Schwaben (7.43%) recording the lowest rates and Mittelfranken (10.40%) and Oberpfalz (10.04%) the highest.

 

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Posted

Will be interesting to see what the outcome is. I really don't see why people shouldn't have to pay for higher education. There should be low cost government loans so that everyone has the opportunity to go, not just the rich kids, but otherwise I don't know why these punks get a free ride. If they had to think about the cost of their education and take some responsibility for it, maybe they wouldn't "study" until 30 before getting a job and paying some taxes.

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I don't have a problem with providing a free higher education.

 

However, I think too many people study for too long for the type of work they end up doing. The problem is that everyone has to study for longer and do masters/postgrad degrees, because they'll be competing with other people who have done this further education - regardless of whether the job actually requires this knowledge or not. You don't need to study for that long to successfully do most jobs. Do you really have to spend 6 years studying full-time to be a successful computer programmer? Or an accountant?

 

In an ideal world, the only people at university, studying long degrees, would be those who are particularly intelligent, doing courses where you actually need all that knowledge to do the job properly (such as medical, science, law etc) - open perhaps to those who were in the top 10-15% at school, and all the rest would have to either enter the workforce, or take courses specific to the line of work that they wish to pursue. Would someone who wants to get into HR really be any worse if they did a 1 year specialist course on everything HR, rather than doing a 4 year degree in BWL? It's not happening, because employers look at how much time individuals spent studying and think that longer means that they must be better, even if the majority of the stuff studied is largely irrelevant.

 

Unfortunately, it's not really an option to introduce this, because it wouldn't work unless the rest of the world went the same way, as given the choice, companies would merely look beyond the national borders for people who studied longer, and a lot of Germans who couldn't get into university here, would just leave and study somewhere else.

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Beyond that, why shouldn't a country invest in its future engineers, doctors, food scientists, etc.?

 

They invest by providing low interest loans to people who want to study. I actually don't have a problem with subsidising it either, if the cost could deter the next generation from studying. But even if they had to pay 10k a year, coming out of university after 3 years with a 30k loan that you only have a pay back once you're earning decent money and has a low interest rate doesn't seem unreasonable to me. It would certainly encourage people to value the education and do it because they truly believe they can be successful at it, rather than doing it as the default option.

 

Like Hazza says, over education causes it own problems as well.

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Posted

My experience in the USA is that people who can afford it use school as the default option anyway, despite the fees. The fees merely act as an economic barrier.

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Do you really have to spend 6 years studying full-time to be a successful computer programmer? Or an accountant? In an ideal world, the only people in higher education would be those who are particularly intelligent

 

With the new bachelor/masters system, three or four years is the new norm in Germany. I agree with you that too many people go to university (especially in the UK), but the numbers shouldn't be reduced by pricing people out of the system.

 

 

But even if they had to pay 10k a year, coming out of university after 3 years with a 30k loan that you only have a pay back once you're earning decent money and has a low interest rate doesn't seem unreasonable to me.

 

Add in the cost of living for three years (poor students can't rely on parents subsidising their studies) and they're looking at graduating in your scenario with a debt of around €60,000 to €80,000, with three years without work having set them back a further €50,000 or so in lost income. If you think that someone from a poor background wouldn't be utterly terrified by this then you've had life too easy.

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With the new bachelor/masters system, three or four years is the new norm in Germany. I agree with you that too many people go to university (especially in the UK), but the numbers shouldn't be reduced by pricing people out of the system.

 

I agree with that, and don't like the idea of people getting priced out. My ideal scenario would be to allow people to study on the basis of performance - only the top people could study, and the only courses that last more than, say a year are ones like medicine or some types of engineering, where a strong knowledge base is needed before you enter the workforce. Other degrees wouldn't even be available, and would be replaced by specialist one year courses. I'd make the first degree/course free and then charge for any subsequent ones.

 

Unfortunately, the thinking amongst people who enter a white collar profession is that a degree is essential for you to be any good at any of the jobs, and those hiring won't take people without one, when in reality, a 4 (or even 3) year degree - let alone a masters or PhD is not necessary to do the vast majority of those jobs successfully.

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Posted

 

Will be interesting to see what the outcome is. I really don't see why people shouldn't have to pay for higher education. There should be low cost government loans so that everyone has the opportunity to go, not just the rich kids, but otherwise I don't know why these punks get a free ride. If they had to think about the cost of their education and take some responsibility for it, maybe they wouldn't "study" until 30 before getting a job and paying some taxes.

 

Reason 1. Most of uni graduates in Germany stay and work in Germany, pay quite high taxes. Why should they pay twice? If the quality of education is bad, then the student will not find a decent job and will not pay taxes, so the university will get less funding after all.

 

Reason 2. 500 euro is a lot of money for someone from the family of Hartz IV receivers, or asylum seekers. Free education gives this person a chance for better life.

 

Reason 3. Sometimes a person feels that a choice of degree was wrong. If they have a huge loan after graduation, they cannot afford taking another loan and have to work at the job they hate for their entire life.

 

There are three things which should be free in the country for good reason: education, health care and public toilets.

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Posted

 

Add in the cost of living for three years (poor students can't rely on parents subsidising their studies) and they're looking at graduating in your scenario with a debt of around €60,000 to €80,000, with three years without work having set them back a further €50,000 or so in lost income. If you think that someone from a poor background wouldn't be utterly terrified by this then you've had life too easy.

 

They can get a part time job to cover the costs while doing university and if their parents aren't supporting them while at University (something that German law forces them to do by the way, but I'm sure there are exceptions) then they should get government, means tested help for that. Blanket covering of fees isn't the way to solve this issue though.

 

 

Reason 1. Most of uni graduates in Germany stay and work in Germany, pay quite high taxes. Why should they pay twice? If the quality of education is bad, then the student will not find a decent job and will not pay taxes, so the university will get less funding after all.

 

What about the ones that leave Germany and don't pay it back? What about people that paid for their degrees outside of Germany and then come to Germany work? What about those who earn good money without going to university? All these people are unfairly picking up the bill for the rest.

 

 

Reason 2. 500 euro is a lot of money for someone from the family of Hartz IV receivers, or asylum seekers. Free education gives this person a chance for better life.

 

Under my suggestion, it wouldn't cost anyone a cent straight up and they would pay it back when they can afford it. That doesn't exclude anyone based on their financial situation.

 

 

Reason 3. Sometimes a person feels that a choice of degree was wrong. If they have a huge loan after graduation, they cannot afford taking another loan and have to work at the job they hate for their entire life.

 

Oh , so it's not fair to make them pay it back, but it is ok to make me and the rest of society pick up the tab? People not deciding "correctly" and spending years wasting their time and my money at university is one of the main reasons my opinion is how it is.

 

 

There are three things which should be free in the country for good reason: education, health care and public toilets.

 

I agree with you on all points, but only to a point. Just as single bed rooms are not covered in your public health plan, neither should higher education.

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I wonder if it would have been more appropriate for this vote just to be open to students. The fees have to be used to improve the quality of tuition, and are additional funds collected by the university for that purpose only - in other words, they have not reduced the burden on the general tax payer.

 

The LMU publishes reports on what it is using the funds for here: http://www.uni-muenchen.de/studium/administratives/gebuehr/studiengebuehren/verwendung/index.html . In my opinion, it's often not money well spent. 70,000 euros for a 'student lounge' at the economics department which basically consists of three sofas and two PCs...

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In my opinion, it's often not money well spent. 70,000 euros for a 'student lounge' at the economics department which basically consists of three sofas and two PCs...

 

Spiegel wrote about that too. Uni Osnabrueck bought a boat, while others didn't know at all what to with it and just kept the money in their bank accounts.

http://www.spiegel.d...n-a-877819.html

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I wonder if it would have been more appropriate for this vote just to be open to students.

 

It would surely be far more appropriate students NOT be allowed to vote. After all, it's the non-students that are paying for their education. If someone is voting on whether or not you should have to pay rent, I'd say the landlords vote should be worth more than yours.

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