Austrian twist to international HE debate

Nieuws | de redactie
21 oktober 2011 | An Austrian governor introduces the idea that future foreign students would no longer be paid for by their host country, but by their country of origin. Charging them extra gets more popular all over Europe.

The discussion over international students gets a new twist inAustria. Salzburg’s governor Gabi Burgstaller from the Socialistparty (SPÖ) proposed that studies of foreign students should nolonger be subsidized by the host country, but by their country oforigin.

This would mean for instance that the German governmenttransfers a certain amount of money for each German student thatdecides to study in Austria. The student himself would continuepaying the prevailing tuition fees. Her goal would be to dedicatethese additional funds for investments into the studying quality ofstudents.

Cost/benefit analysis

“I am very much in favor of an open university system, but thisshould not come at the expense of Austrian taxpayers. What’snecessary is an intelligent solution that does not discriminateagainst foreign students,” commented Burgstaller upon announcingher plan.

Other countries like Switzerland, Scotland and the Netherlandsare currently involved in a similar discussion. Just like theAustrians, Swiss universities have to deal with an everincreasing influx of German students that were not taken in atGerman universities.

Scotland meanwhile countered an increase inEnglish student numbers by charging them thousands of Euros inadditional tuition fees. The Dutch junior minister of education,Halbe Zijstra, responded to this development by putting in place anexpert panel that will research the costs and benefits foreignstudents create at Dutch universities.

Already now it is clear that Burgstaller’s ideas could result ina complex system. Dutch students, for instance, are subject to theso called “langstudeerboete” which charges students extra who taketoo long for their studies (one year on top of the regular programlength). This would then also apply for Dutch nationals studyingabroad.

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