Student protests: Near you? Are you participating?

Tuesday two weeks ago, some students occupied our University (German language link), demonstrating against the high tuition costs*; against the University becoming too school-like with the change of the Bologna-processto Bachelor and Masters and the points-system; and against the early selection of children in the school system - Bavarian children, or rather, their parents, have to decide at age 10! after the 4th grade to which school type to send their children, which will have a big effect on their future. If they don’t go to the advanced High School (Gymnasium) and finish it scucessfully with the Abitur, they can’t study at a University, because they haven’t proven their maturity for it. (It used to be impenetrable; todays, children can go to special schools and get an Abitur later, but it still means time lost and a second-rate reputation.)

This is part of a larger action, called “Heisser Herbst” (Hot Autumn**), with not only Universities in Germany, but also in other European countries being occupied, and regular demonstration marches. On the network page, the list of occupied Unis lists even the University of Illinois! They plan to expand this even more.

So - anybody here has heard about this? Several dopers are at universities as students or teachers, I think - are getting involved? (Please no comments on how these lazy students should simply get off their asses and do real work; or how they are all lefties - that gets really, really, really old by now).

  • 500 Euros per semester, in addition to the costs for high rent in Munich and for food, public transport and other costs of living. This is a rather recently introduced thing here. In Germany, students don’t get scholarships for sports, because Universities don’t have big sports teams, they are places for studying. There is Bafög, a small amount of money paid to students from poor families with good grades, but the application is long, complicated and the amount is too low to cover all costs.
    Moreover experience and studies by PISA and OECD have shown we already have too much of a divide between the classes in regard to education in Germany, and tuition fees only make it more difficult for children from blue-collar families, workers and immigrants to go to University. We should close that gap and help to get more people a good education, not widen it.

** Many students and school pupils marched on the streets in protest in the summer, and the ministers for Education promised to change things - now , nothing has changed, so they are protesting again.

Frankly you’re gonna have problems getting sympathy from USers. At 500 Euros (what’s that $750 US) you’ve got a dirt cheap deal.

I am a bit taken back by the, “Deciding at age 10,” thing though. That seems just plain dumb.

It’s not about sympathy, but about solidarity. I know that USers have not problem at all with charging high tuition fees - I think the usual reasoning is that the universities thus provide good quality of education; while at the same time, a third of the money or so is used for sport stadiums and similar, to which my reaction is: WTF?. However, until recently, students in Germany only had to pay the fee for the students union (Studentenwerk), which was about 50 Euros a semester. This new fee goes towards the University, in exchange of which, the state has cut its support, leaving the universities often worse off than before: the tuition money can only be used for certain things, not for everything, for example, not for repair of buildings, which cost millions of Euros anyway. They try to hire more tutors and teachers to relieve the professors, but it’s all badly administered.

Generally, Europeans think that Universities should be free - that is, before the Grammar nitpicking idiots start again, without charge for the students, but paid by the state like the public schools, because Education is important for civilised nation. We simply can’t afford to exclude large groups of our population; and as a democracy, we can’t afford dumb citizens, we need people who have learned critical thinking, no matter how difficult they make life for the government.

Yes, it is. What’s worse, because each German state decides its own system, in Bavaria the teachers recommendation trumps the wishes of the parent: if the parents want to send their kid to Gymnasium, but the teacher think the child is unsuited, there’s no higher appeal. PISA has shown that, with the grades the same, twice as much children from academic families get the recommendation thatn children from non-academic families.

In fact, after WWII, the Allies told the Germans to get rid of the social-class-structured three-tier school system, but the German ministers of the states didn’t want to loose their individual decision powers, and delayed matters until the Allies went home, and then implemented the old system again. In some states, like North-Rhine Westfalia, there are comprehensive schools, where all pupils are taught together until the 9th form, when they seperate (studies show this is better for the children), but the idiot consies in charge of Bavaria are dead-set against this, so no comprehensive schools for us. (No integration of handicapped in normal schools, either. Parents either have to send their kid to special school, or move to another state. The “reason” given is that the slow kids drag down the academic performance of the other kids, which is of course long been disproven as bunk. )