Written by Alyssa Walker

One of the great joys of studying abroad in Germany has been its free tuition at some of its finest public universities—and courses in English.

That’s right: free tuition in Germany.

But maybe not for too much longer.

Some states in Germany are reversing the tuition-free policy for international students.

According to a Washington Post article, Baden-Württemberg charges tuition fees for students who do not have EU citizenship. North Rhine-Westphalia is expected to do the same.

The fees—estimated at $3,500—are considerably less than those in the US and the UK, but the change in policy marks a shift in Germany.

Germany is facing a labor shortage—a rapidly aging population combined with a need for highly skilled workers.

The tuition-free model encouraged millions of students over the past four years to study at Germany’s public schools.

This policy shift may quell the flow of international students to the country.

While offering tuition-free degrees to international students was an expensive solution to the labor shortage, it was effective at getting students to the country.

Between 2002 and 2012, the number of international students increased by 50 percent. Non-EU students currently hail from Turkey, China, Russia, India, and the US.

Germany also offers a competitive post-graduation visa—students have 18 months to search for jobs after they finish their degrees.

North Rhine-Westphalia’s argument? According to the Washington Post, North Rhine-Westphalia’s government issued a statement, “The success of many students depends mostly on the direct exchange with professors. However, many of them simply do not have time to sufficiently support their students.”

Learn more about studying in Germany.

Alyssa Walker is a freelance writer, educator, and nonprofit consultant. She lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her family.
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