More and more Americans students are saying “auf Wiedersehen” to the U.S. and heading to Germany for their college education.
And why not? Tuition at U.S. universities has surged 500 percent since 1985, according to Bloomberg News — with no ceiling in sight. But in the land of lederhosen, schnitzel, and bier — where one of the most generous welfare programs in Europe exists — college tuition costs nothing.
Germany is both an opportunity and a warning for Americans.
“Germany is such a great place to live for younger people, in addition to just studying there,” said one 27-year-old Boston-area media professional who spent a semester abroad there several years ago. “Students will not want to leave after they experience it — I didn’t want to.”
The number of American students enrolled in German universities has risen steadily in recent years. Right now an estimated 10,000 U.S. citizens are studying at German colleges — and most of them for free, according to NBC News. Tuition costs are nonexistent there, in part to attract and keep talented workers in the country.
So how’s this working out for German citizens? If they are taxpayers — not too well. Declaring tuition “socially unjust” (or at least the Hamburg senator of science, Dorothee Stapelfeldt, called it that back in 2014, according to Forbes), Germany offers an education at no cost to students. And now that the country has students from other shores teeming to theirs, their citizens’ taxes are rising to cover the costs.
“Germany and its universities have quite a good reputation in the United States,” Dorothea Rueland, secretary-general of the German Academic Exchange Service, told NBC News. “And we have a huge increase in courses taught in English. This obviously makes it easier for American students to channel into the German system.”
Higher education in Germany is incredibly costly to run and maintain, however, because the universities offer a science-heavy curriculum. Unfortunately, many high-earning, well-educated residents will flee “the country of poets and thinkers,” as it is often called, to avoid these taxes.
Germany is both an opportunity and a warning for Americans. It’s an opportunity for our students to learn for free and avoid staggering college debt — but it’s a warning to our citizens that offering freebies to foreigners costs the natives dearly.
Higher education in Germany is costly to run and maintain.
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“The father of my host family was always talking about their taxes,” said the Boston-area professional who enjoyed a semester there. “I’m sure they are concerned about the influx of students that they are supporting with their own pay, basically.”
Sooner or later, this “free” higher education will feel pretty expensive. Higher taxes will likely drive the most educated, highest earning, most able Germans out of their homeland and into societies where they can take home more of their hard-earned pay, Forbes reported.
Another issue with free education: Students are more apt to linger for years in the comforts of the classroom. Germany is famous for its “Dauerstudenten” — “eternal students.”
Too many German students don’t graduate on time, the German publication TheLocal.com reported. The average graduation age (following a master’s degree) is around 28 years old.