Ruttgers's shadow boxes dirty with his own party

March 22, 1996

The German Social Democrats' parliamentary education spokesman faces resignation calls from his party for threatening to break with the party line on student fees.

Peter Glotz is set to publish a book reportedly calling for the introduction of student fees - which is contrary to party policy. The SPD is not only angry that the man whose job is to shadow education minister Jurgen Ruttgers in the Bundestag, is flouting the party line over the most controversial issue in German education. It also found fault with his sense of timing: news of the book, Rotten to the Core? - five minutes to midnight at Germany's universities, came just ahead of elections in three German states on Sunday.

Mr Glotz promised the party faithful he would keep quiet about the fees debate until after the elections. And true to his word, the book will not reach most bookshops until Monday. His office in Bonn said he would not comment until then.

However, a publisher's pre-publication blurb indicates what to expect: "The German universities have failed in the great discussion over European Union, on ecological innovation and the transformation from the industrial to an information society. Only courageous focusing on the issues, new forms of financing . . . will give them a serious chance for survival."

Mr Glotz has already advocated fees of DM1,000 (Pounds 440) per semester, the same policy pursued by many university rectors and conservative politicians. He also wants to give universities more autonomy in selecting their students. Andrea Nahles, chairman of the SPD youth organisation, has called for his resignation. And Anke Brunn, SPD education minister of North-Rhine Westphalia, said he should askhimself if he is still suited to bethe SDP's parliamentary education spokesman.

Mr Glotz, aged 57, is an experienced education policymaker. He is a professor at Munich University, education senator in Berlin and was an under-secretary in the education ministry in the 1970s. He is an intellectual who writes in the national press on issues from the war in Bosnia to travel. But since becoming Bundestag education spokesman he has made more headlines opposing his party than opposing Mr Ruttgers.

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