Why is higher education not free in India?

Hamburg / Gütersloh / Berlin (dpa) - Private, profit-oriented colleges and universities with sometimes hefty tuition fees are on the rise worldwide, according to a new study.

"Germany is the only country in which politicians still adhere to a non-contributory public higher education for almost all students," says the comparison report for 13 countries on behalf of the Körber Foundation (Hamburg).

The study by a US group of scientists ("Answers to Massification"), however, only analyzes trends in higher education and vocational training systems in predominantly large countries. In addition to ten G20 countries (Germany, France, Great Britain, Brazil, India, Russia, Japan, Australia, China, USA), it provides data on Egypt, Ghana and Chile - but not on other European countries that get by at state universities without tuition fees . "Free higher education is not an obsolete model," concluded the DGB deputy head Elke Hannack.

According to the Körber Report, the private higher education sector is booming "especially in those countries in which it is not possible to meet the demand from public universities and other state educational institutions. Private providers fill the gaps quickly. The quality and benefits of their offers vary greatly. " As a result of this development, state influence is waning.

"In most cases, governments have abandoned policies designed to control enrollment and educational opportunities and have given in to market forces and international trends," said Philip Altbach of Boston College, head of the study. For example, Egypt and Russia have "blurred the line between the public and private education sectors by allowing public universities to create places for fee-paying students in addition to their subsidized study places."

According to the report, access to higher education is usually no longer the privilege of a social elite - on the contrary, "in many countries over half a year" studied, including in Germany. On the other hand, over 35 million students are enrolled in India, only about a quarter of the 18- to 24-year-olds in the huge country.

According to a study by the Center for University Development (CHE / Gütersloh), which is part of the Bertelsmann Foundation, the up-and-coming private university sector in Germany is now "particularly good at addressing new target groups among students". "Individual service and study offers combined with high relevance for the later professional practice of the graduates" are decisive.

According to the CHE, potential "customers" of private universities are students with children, who have already completed their training, or part-time students. "In addressing these new target groups, the private universities in Germany are noticeably more successful than the state institutions", so the conclusion. Ulrich Müller, Head of Political Analysis at CHE: "Students are sensitive to whether they are perceived as a burden for university employees or whether they are received with open arms."

According to the most recent figures from the Federal Statistical Office, private universities had a good 196,000 students in 2015 - that is, still only a fraction of a total of around 2.7 million. The rate of increase was considerable: twenty years ago there were only 16,000, ten years ago only 54,000 students at private universities.