Tuition fees

I have the privilege of teaching in Berlin, one of the few German states who currently does not assess tuition fees from their students. Elsewhere, such as in NRW where I spent the weekend, the students pay 500 Euros a semester in tuition fees. This is by American standards a great deal, but the question is, what are they paying for? The money is supposed to improve the quality of the education.

Last year at a seminar on conflict management that I attended I had heard from colleagues in such states that the money was piling up, but no one had any real idea what to do with it. They couldn't hire professors or researchers for the money, just temporary teachers, so it was just gathering interest, waiting for good ideas.

One person told me that their school is using some of that money to purchase plagiarism detection software. I fail to see how this increases the quality of the education, as the reason they want to have such a system is that they have between 100 and 250 persons attending a class! I feel that the money should perhaps be put to better use to increase the services offered to the students or to make the classes smaller. But as someone else remarked, many students in technical fields feel they don't need to have a library, they just get their information from the Internet.

Another person who has been a professor for 18 years in NRW said that since the students have had to pay for their studies, they start showing up on time and attend more lectures.

I still think that tuition is not the answer. I could not have studied in the States for longer than a Bachelor's degree, my Dad was out of work and I could only afford a public school. Education should not be restricted to those rich enough to purchase it, but should be available to all. The state needs well-trained workers, and thus the state should pay for a basic education for all, in my opinion. But who ever listens to me?

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