Tue Oct 21st, 2008 at 07:21:16 AM EST
Opponents of tuition fees warn that the fees will reduce social mobility. Propoents counter that good students will make it, whatever their background.
Now a government-sponsored study in Germany found that a lot more young people are scared away from studying than "previously assumed".
But we only know because of leaks to the media: the education minister kept it under wraps. Even though Merkel called for a summit on education, to be held tomorrow (Wednesday).
The study concerns young people admissible for tertiary education in 2006, and the ministerium (led by Merkel's close confidante Annette Schavan) claims they wanted to publish it with an update for the years 2007/8 in four weeks. But that would still be strange scheduling given the education summit... and the SPD is already using the opportunity for some profiling, demanding immediate publication.
As for the leaked findings, according to German press agency dpa via SPIEGEL.
The study, which was prepared by a university research group in Hannover, is partly based on a(n already public) poll by the same group. That poll found that a quarter of those not going to study on were influenced by tuition fees in their decision.
The most affected groups were: women, and people whose parental house was far away from universities and other institutes of tertiary education.
In Germany, education policy is the responsibility of state governments, thus there are differences: in 2006, still only 2 of the 16 states had tuition fees introduced. Yet, would-be students were found to have been made unsecure by the debate even in states as yet without. As for students studying in other than their home state, instead of a switch from states with fees to ones without, there has just been a reduction.
As for bare statistics: between 2003 and 2007, the number of those admissible for tertiary education grew by 63,000 to 432,500, those actually becoming students sank -18,870 to 358,670.