Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Saturday, December 15, 2018

Most European colleges still tuition-free

While U.S. students' college tuition continues to rise, many European countries continue to fund their universities and are experimenting with low tuitions.

A 2008 study by the CESifo Group, a European research group, shows that many public universities in Europe do not charge their students any tuition fees at all. This is, for instance, the case in France, Ireland, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Malta and all of the Scandinavian countries, according to the CESifo study.

Ida Tandin, a Washington Semester Program student from Sweden, said there are upsides and downsides to the lack of tuition fees.

"The good thing is that everyone who wants to study and has the qualification for it can do so," she said. "On the other hand, the quality is decreasing at some universities as they accept more and more students."

Marine Joly, a Washington Semester Program student from France, said that in that nation, where there is a high unemployment rate, many young people try to get into one of the few private and expensive business schools.

"The public universities are free, but many of them also lack some quality," she said. "But, when you eventually get into a private business school, you increase your chance to get a good job after graduation."

In Germany, tuition fees have just been introduced to some universities. After some political debate, the government decided to give the German universities the right to decide for themselves whether they wanted tuition fees for their institutions. Before, only a few private schools could charge fees for their education. Even though the amount German students now pay is not allowed to exceed 500 Euros, many students revolted against the tuition fees, according to CESifo study.

Patricia Frohberg, a Washington Semester Program student from Munich, Germany, said she thinks the inconsistency on tuition is a problem.

"Therefore, the gap between the educational supplies and equipment of the universities and the free and the paid ones is getting bigger," she said.

At her home university, LMU Munich, in Munich, Frohberg spends 500 Euros for tuition fees. Compared to what students pay at AU, that is still a small amount, she said.

"But if you want to study in the USA, you have to accept much higher fees," Frohberg said. "However, the academic support and the facilities are much better here."

AU tuition for undergraduates for the 2008-2009 academic year costs $32,816, while room and board cost an additional $12,418, according to AU's admissions Web site.

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