Petition to ban fees

November 26, 1999

Students in 60 German university towns have launched a nationwide petition demanding a definitive ban on student fees.

It calls for "fees-free study" and demands that the ruling Social Democrats (SPD) uphold their election promise for a ban on fees.

The SPD needs "political pressure", said Thomas Lohmeier, student leader of the Campaign Alliance Against Student Fees, which includes student unions, the SPD and the teaching trade union GEW.

"We hope tens of thousands

of students will sign the petition this semester," he added.

The petition will be handed to

the educationminister,Edelgard Bulmahn (SPD), next February.

Last month the Conference of Education Ministers, representing the education ministries of the 16 German states, failed to agree a unified ban on fees.

"This means that every state can do as it likes," said Edelbert Richter (SPD). Berlin, Lower Saxony and Baden-Wuerttemberg already charge registration fees.

The government would be likely to face a legal challenge from the states if it did include a nationwide ban in the higher education framework law.

Ms Bulmahn, a vehement opponent of fees, even faces opposition from her own party. Thomas Oppermann, Lower Saxony's education minister, has repeatedly tried to introduce them.

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