As a college freshman, the financial obligations associated with higher education are still, and will likely long be, at the front of my mind. So naturally, when I heard that all of Germany officially got rid of all tuition fees for universities, I was really excited. This policy extends to international students, including us Americans. The justification that most politicians gave for doing away with tuition was that tuition discouraged students from families in which members did not typically go to college from getting a higher education. I think this justification is totally valid and the same argument could likely be true in the United States as well. Finances were a huge part of the reason that I chose to come to the University of Oklahoma (although OU has tons of other great attributes that I’ve been able to take advantage of). As I’ve said before on this blog, I plan to go to Germany for my long-term study abroad experience, so we’ll see how this change affects my expenses.
This policy seems to be all sunshine and rainbows at first. Free higher education? That’s the ideal, right? In a perfect world, totally. But alas, we do not. And someone has to pay for the costs of education. I read a Forbes article by Christopher Denhart that explains some of the consequences of tuition-free universities, linked below.
In the article, Denhart states that as taxes go up to pay for the universities, the best educated and highest earning Germans will leave the country for places with a lower cost of living. As Germany is already having a population crisis, this would be the opposite of constructive. The German population is aging significantly, and the country was already going to need to rely on immigration of foreigners to keep up. Compounded with this new expense issue, Germany is looking down the barrel of a population crisis.
This is not to say that Germany will not recover and rejuvenate its population. German engineering will figure this out, I’m sure. But it is interesting to think about the unanticipated side effects of a move such as the banning of university tuition. Personally, I think it is a step in the right direction, but it will have some logistical issues with which it will have to contend.