BM 63 – ESU calls for abolition of general tuition fees in Bavaria and Lower Saxony

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In the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), the main responsibility for education policies lie with the sixteen federal states. According to a decision of the German constitutional court, thus the federal states have to decide whether to introduce tuition fees or not – regardless of international law: the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights defines “free education” as a human right and explicitly demands the progressive introduction of free higher education. This covenant is also explicitly stating that federal states are bound by that ruling, nevertheless the Federal Administration Court of Germany decided in a controversy decision that the given violation of this human right in some German federal states is still “socially acceptable”.

However, in 2007 half of the federal states decided to establish general tuition fees which caused huge protests not only by students but also many other societal actors who do not wish for a commodification of higher education but to see free access to it as a basic human right. Thus, by 2012, these tuition fees have already been abolished again in most federal states, only two are remaining: Bavaria and Lower Saxony. Now, in January 2013 there will be elections in Lower Saxony, followed in autumn by Bavaria. Additionally, there’s a petition for a referendum to abolish tuition fees in Bavaria which needs 940.000 signatures within 17.-30. January 2013.

Therefore, the European Students Union (ESU) calls for the governments of Bavaria and Lower Saxony to come to realize that Higher Education must be free, according to the respective international covenants on human rights. Tuition fees have to be totally abolished and substituted by progressive taxation in order to guarantee the possibility of realization of the basic human right to free education as formulated in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural. German federal states have to respect the right to free education for everyone, as demanded by the German umbrella organization of student bodies, freier zusammenschluss von studentInnenschaften, since it’s existence.


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