Tuition fees were introduced by the Schüssel government in 2001, only shortly after the minister for education, Lisl Gehrer, had promised that no such thing would ever exist under her reign. They were protested by almost every student union, but to no avail. Before last year’s election, the SPÖ promised that in case they won the election, they would get rid of the fees. Well, now that they have been taken by their word, it turned out to be not as easy as they thought. In return for becoming chancellor by the grace of election loser but necessary evil ÖVP, Gusenbauer, head of the SPÖ and leader of the coalition talks, presented his version of what “getting rid” means. For him, getting rid of the fees means being able to work them off.
Starting next semester, any student who doesn’t want to or can’t pay the fees, has the option of doing 60 hours of social work per semester. Divide the bi-annual fees of about 360 Euros by that amount of work, and you get the absolute minimum wage of 6 Euros. Basically this means students will be used for jobs that require unskilled labour (because, of course, they won’t spend ten of those 60 hours training someone), in order to pay for the fees.
Now, I don’t think anyone could have come up with a better solution of NOT getting rid of the tuition fees, even if they had tried really, really hard (next to actually NOT getting rid of them, of course).
Here’s an article on the whole thing to make up for my scandalous lack of sources.