Thousands of university students have taken to the streets across Germany to protest at education reforms.
Around-the-clock occupations at more than 20 universities have been going on for days now, with students and some teachers angry at the introduction of high tuition fees, less time allowed to complete courses, and the replacement of centuries-old qualifications by a US style bachelor’s and masters degree system. “The timetables are so full, there’s such a poor syllabus we have no choice. We can only do what’s presented to us, and must work under high pressure with no possibility of free development or self-fulfilment. This must be changed.” “I’m only a diploma student so the problem for me isn’t so great, but I’m supporting the strike by the masters and bachelor students who have big problems finishing their courses in the time allowed, and with little money. It’s a catastrophe,” were two opinions expressed by striking students. Government and professors blame each other for overcrowding and student stress. Students are furious five-year courses have been shortened to three with no corresponding cut in the workload, and at the new 1500 euro tuition fees. Previously Germany’s 16 state governments, who entirely fund higher education, only imposed token charges or none at all. Many seem to agree with the students, but the reforms have been EU-driven to bring the German system into line with the rest of Europe, in the so-called 1999 Bologne process, and better meet the needs of the jobs market.