In the mid-1990s, individual CDU/CSU-governed states in the western part of Germany began introducing tuition fees in order to shore up university budgets and improve facilities. State governments (or universities) were free to decide whether and how much tuition to charge, but fees were not exceed 500 Euro per semester. SPD-governed states rejected general tuition fees, but some introduced fees for long-term students. The reform sparked loud protests against “commercialized education" and the “commodification” of university studies. The protests were particularly intense at universities with large student bodies.
This photograph shows Leipzig University students protesting at Augustusplatz in January 2004. Their banner reads “Let me be your human capital.” Photo: Peter Endig.