Minister bites back at angry students

September 14, 2001

Austria's education minister has hit back at students who have complained about the introduction of fees.

Elisabeth Gehrer said that 40 per cent of them did not even bother to take exams while registered as students.

This is the latest in a series of clashes between the minister and students over tuition fees, which will be introduced this year.

The minister said her claims were supported by statistics from the academic years 1998-99 and 1999-2000. She said that doctorate students and those taking further studies were not included in the statistics.

In Austrian universities, exams are not compulsory. Students take on average about six years to complete their courses.

English student Maria Maier said: "We have so-called 'card-index-corpses' - these are students who enrol just to get cheap travel and other student benefits - but 40 per cent of students not taking exams is a lot. With our system it is much too easy to say 'I'll take the next exam'."

Ms Gehrer said the introduction of the "moderate" contributions of £250 a year would mean "less sham enrolments but the same amount of student activity".

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