No improper use of tuition fees at higher education institutions
In the German Länder of North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Saxony, the first semester in which tuition fees will be charged is about to begin. The focus of public interest now moves to how the money is being used. In a study the CHE – Centre for Higher Education Development has examined how the collected fees are being used in North Rhine-Westphalia.
At the start of the winter semester 2006/2007, the CHE – Centre for Higher Education Development together with the German Rectors’ Conference carried out a survey among higher education institutions in North Rhine-Westphalia in order to find out the factors determining the implementation of tuition fees.
The analysis shows that there is certainly no improper use of tuition fees. Even if not all NRW higher education institutions have incorporated the rules for using tuition fees into a comprehensive and strategic overall context, many higher education institutions are on the right path and respond to immediate requirements.
All institutions listed the following uses of the collected fees:
Improvement of the student/mentor ratio, tutorials (mentors, establishment of small groups), improved consultation at the start of the study programme and improved internships. In addition, improved library equipment and library opening hours were also listed, as well as an extended student consultation offer and optimisation of media equipment, longer opening hours of several services, improved measures for young student families and strengthening the teaching of key qualifications.
Measures such as prices for excellent teaching and teaching-related construction works are also planned This is where the higher education institutions take a different approach, e.g. the FH Köln focuses on improved consultation at the start of the study programme. The Universität Paderborn however finances improvements from the general budget in advance to be able to implement “quick wins” from the start.
Some higher education institutions start from a position of ”focusing on existing problems”– i.e. as a first step they plan solutions for existing problems. This is a reasonable and comprehensible approach in the context of existing problems in German higher education institutions. It should, however, soon become a position with a “focus on strategies” (linked with clear overall target setting).