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Senate Issues Statement

Governing body rejects Baden-Württemberg's planned State University Tuition Law in its present form

Freiburg, May 02, 2017

Senate Issues Statement

Foto: Sandra Meyndt

The Senate of the University of Freiburg has issued a statement on the bill for Baden-Württemberg's planned State University Tuition Law (Landeshochschulgebührengesetz):

"The Senate of the University of Freiburg comments as follows on the bill for the State University Tuition Law currently being debated in the State Parliament, which would introduce tuition fees for non-EU international students and for students working toward a second degree at Baden-Württemberg's state higher education institutions:

  • The planned law would cause a great administrative burden that is not addressed with sufficient clarity in the explanation of the grounds for the bill, including procedures for issuing demands for payment, procedures for granting exemptions or remission of tuition fees, monitoring to ensure receipt of payment, constant advising efforts with regard to tuition affairs, and an additional administrative burden in the case of objections and complaints against demands for payment. It is implausible to assume that it would be possible for the universities to accommodate this additional burden without overextending their budgets.

  • The planned law could precipitate negative developments. Prospective students from non-EU countries will be more likely decide to study in other German states on account of the tuition fees. This would have a negative effect on degree programs that are dependent on attracting students from non-EU countries due to their curriculum (such as Slavic Studies, Environmental Governance, and Renewable Energy Management). The planned evaluation clause (Article 1, Section 20, Paragraph 3) is much too vague to allow for any necessary readjustments: It does not specify a precise timeframe, lacks an obligation to report to Parliament, does not include transparency standards, etc.

  • The share of revenue from tuition reserved for the universities (20%) does not solve the problem of structural underfunding of our universities. Moreover, the anticipated decline in the number of international students will lead to additional disadvantages for Baden-Württemberg's universities, including a reduction in funding from the Higher Education Pact and the state's quality assurance funding program. In the end, the universities could even be worse off than they are under the current legal situation.

  • The fact that the social criteria for receiving an exemption from tuition are no longer fixed by a unified statewide regulation but are set by standards to be determined by the individual universities shows that the bill takes insufficient account of social considerations.

For these reasons, the Senate of the University of Freiburg calls upon the state government to prevent a worsening of the financial situation at the universities, take sufficient account of social aspects, and avoid causing negative developments with regard to the internationalization of Baden-Württemberg's universities.

An amended State University Tuition Law must in any case be subjected to an evaluation after a period of no longer than three years.

The Senate of the University of Freiburg rejects the bill as it now stands."