Nearly half Germany's students would support tuition fees if the money went directly into improving university quality and was financed by a loan system, according to an opinion poll.
The poll, carried out by the independent research institute Forsa, found that 96 per cent of students would oppose fees if the money was used to bolster state budgets.
But 49 per cent of students would be prepared to pay fees of DM1,000 (Pounds 340) a semester if study conditions improved and loans were repayable after graduation. Among students aged 22-25, 54 per cent were in favour of fees.
The poll, commissioned by the Centre for Higher Education and the Stifterverband fur die Deutsche Wissenschaft research foundation, surprised policymakers in the wake of recent student protests, which focused on opposition to proposals to introduce fees in the higher education reform bill.