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Will foreigners have to pay extra in Bavarian universities? | Study and work in Germany | DW

In Bavaria, they want to modernize the system of higher education. As part of the “Hightech Agenda Bayern” strategy, it is planned to bring local universities to leading positions in international comparison. Management should be debureaucratized, which will allow, for example, to quickly appoint professors. Special programs should improve career opportunities for scientists. In addition, it should be easier for university employees to invest in businesses or open spin-offs.

The new bill promises universities more flexibility and freedom, including in the management of finances. And therein lies the rub. State universities want to be allowed to take fees from foreigners. This applies to students from non-EU countries. Specific amounts have not yet been named.

Where in Germany foreigners pay extra for education

Bavaria is not the only federal state considering this possibility of replenishing university funds. This right is reserved for university rectors in Saxony. However, only two music academies have decided to introduce an additional fee so far. So, in the Leipzig Higher School of Music and Theater, in addition to the compulsory service semester fee, which is currently €240, non-EU students must pay €1,800 per semester. In the Dresden Higher School of Music, the semester fee will amount to almost 290 euros from autumn, and for foreigners receiving their first higher education in Germany, payment of 2,000 euros per six months is provided, in the case of a master’s degree – 1,300 euros.

Well, the first tuition fee for foreigners from outside the EU introduced Baden-Württemberg. Since 2017, at all universities and higher schools of applied sciences, it is 1,500 euros per semester – if the student receives the first diploma in Germany and does not have a German matriculation certificate. The additional proceeds are partly intended to improve programs for working with foreigners, including language courses. They should also increase the attractiveness of universities for students from other countries. However, according to data from the Federal Statistical Office, this measure had the opposite effect. If in 2016 there were 9,091 non-EU students in Baden-Württemberg, in 2017, after the introduction of tuition fees, – 7,748, then in 2020 their number dropped to 5,175.

Technical University of Munich - one of the most famous Bavarian universities

Technical University of Munich – one of the most famous Bavarian universities

Following the example of Baden-Württemberg, the North Rhine-Westphalia government also intended to take money from non-EU students. But after two years of consideration of this model, they decided to abandon it here. According to the German Academic Exchange Service DAAD, this federal state in western Germany has the highest number of foreign students. Bavaria ranks second in this indicator. But whether she will be able to maintain popularity after the introduction of tuition fees is a question.

Criticism of the Bavarian plans

Problems with funding studies are one of the main difficulties faced by about 325,000 international students in Germany. This is confirmed by surveys regularly conducted by the Society for the Advancement of University Students (DSW). Despite the fact that in order to obtain a student visa, it is necessary to provide funding guarantees (for example, 10,300 euros for a year on a blocked account), the actual cost of living is a big problem. In the same Bavaria, the cost of renting student housing is one of the highest in the country. Munich breaks records. The cost of a room in an apartment for several people (Wohngemeinschaft, WG) reaches up to 700 euros per month.

The coronavirus pandemic worsened the situation – many students were deprived of the opportunity to earn extra money. Therefore, DSW strongly opposes the plans of Bavaria and points out that tuition fees are “poison for equal chances”.

Housing costs - the main item of student expenses

Housing costs – the main item of student expenses

Several organizations representing the interests of students and scientists also criticized. “Bavaria is doing a disservice to fairness in education. In addition to the already high cost of living in Bavaria, tuition fees at the discretion of universities add another financial hurdle that further stimulates social selection,” emphasizes Vanessa Gombisch from the Federal Association foreign students (BAS).

Advocates of student interests hope that politicians will hear them and cross out the relevant paragraph from the new bill, which has been working on for two years. After being approved by the Bavarian government this May, it is now being discussed by the state parliament. The new law is due to take effect in January 2023.

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