German students protest against tuition fees

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Nov 13 2009 03:29 AM | Updated as of Nov 13 2009 11:32 AM

BERLIN - Hundreds of university students staged demonstrations across Germany on Thursday in protest at tuition fees and a recent reform of the country's degree system.

Demonstrators held sit-ins at lecture halls in 20 German cities including the Free University of Berlin and Munich's prestigious Ludwig-Maxmilians University0.

Protesters want tuition fees, which can be between 100 to 500 euros (150 to 750 dollars) per semester, to be scrapped. They also want scholarships to be made available to poorer students based on need rather than academic achievement.

The demonstrations also opposed recent reforms harmonising the German degree system with the rest of Europe. It now follows the Bachelor-Master-Doctorate format, which critics say is much more intense than the German version it replaced.

"The students are protesting against the workload that results from this more condensed course and fear that a bachelor degree will not be enough when entering the job market," said Susanne Schilden, a spokeswoman for the German Rectors Conference (HRK), a group representing 265 of the country's 300 universities.

Some 2.1 million students were enrolled in higher education in 2008, according to HRK.

In Germany's federal system, education is the responsibility of each individual region rather than central government.