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"You can't beat free" is a well known slogan, but does it apply for everything? This is a question that Ihave to ask myself learning about the new resolution about the abolishment of tuition fees at Austrian universities. Before telling you why I am against it, I want to make two things clear:

1) I have paid tuition fees myself and while I had the luck that my family paid most of my education during university, it still hurt to pay them because my parents did not pay me more just because university suddenly cost something (when I started in 1999 there were none).

2) I don't agree with tuition fees, but that does not mean that I agree with the political parties that are against it as well (I am actually shocked about the quality of the political landscape at home).

So why is it that I think it was a poor choice to make studying available to everyone? Because I think it is an idealistic and most of all, a populistic move before the elections. There is no black and white, it's more complicated.

While it surely hurts the students to pay tuition fees in the moment they're paying it, they'd benefit a lot more from higher quality of education in the long term. As for the argument of accessibility: Yes, there have to be loans and scholarships. I doubt that a lot of people were not able to study because of the 380 something Euros they had to pay. For the not so well-off, there were scholarships available and no, I don't know if there were people that fell through the system (poor, but not eligible for scholarship in other words), I am all for improving and changing the system, but not just making a valuable good entirely free without any entry barriers. It takes away funds from the universities and decreases the overall quality of students and the student experience.

I think everyone agrees that Austria is far from having the best overall university system in the world. It's not all bad, but what does this step do to improve our status quo? Nothing.

Finally, I just want to point out that studying is a lot more expensive in other countries. In my point of view, I don't think of education as a free service, but one that should be supported by the state and made available by lots and lots of scholarships for students that come from lower incomes. This is the equivalent to a progressive tax model and thus a pretty socialistic idea, so why the hell is the Socialist Party not for it?

Just as a last comment I would like to state, in accordance to my black and white comment from before, that my thoughts about this topic refer to Austria, not to other countries. There is not one model that fits all. You see, it's complicated ;-)
maximus meinte am 25. Sep, 15:47:
Btw
Happy to receive comments from people that don't share my opinion. I would be happy to be convinced otherwise.