Like many others, I am following statements of members of the new government and their party companions. It is not possible to recall all these statements, and even less all reactions to them. Therefore, I would like to focus on just two items: Grading again in primary schools and tuition fees for students at Universities.
At a round table on ORF2 (Monday, December 19, 2017), Walter Rosenkranz commented on the grading: “It is an absolutely good solution if this school system is built on performance, on effort and also on something that is lost, on discipline. These are virtues that will be needed later in life”. Walter Rosenkranz has been Chairman of the Education Committee of the Austrian Parliament. Has the approach to foster the natural curiosity of children for learning become obsolet? Are we back to a system that drives out this curiosity at the sake of discipline?
According to the Government Program 2017-2022, students should moderately contribute by their fees to tertiary education in order to improve their steadiness (looks like two independent goals). The funding share of the private sector should increase to 0.5% of the BIP. If private sector means students, the fees would amount to about 5.000 €/year, according to the uniko-President Oliver Vitouch. The program further states that “tuition fees would later be tax-deductible”. We know that already many students have to seek jobs for their living, so how does this go together with the goal to achieve steadiness and to attract talented students from ALL social classes? Though the Program mentions “extension of stipends” and “reform of the scholarship system (more performance oriented)”, it is equally vague in this respect. That fees would later be tax-deductible will not be of any help for the students.
P.s. January 11, 2018: We now learn that parents who qualify for family allowance for their juveniles (>18 years) may expect a bonus of 500 € per year. Will these families be able to deduct costs for their children in education in their tax declaration? I hope that such questions will soon be answered to the sake of our students.
P.s. January 16, 2018: According to an interview by Minister Faßmann (Profil, January 15), he envisages a tuition fee of 336 €/semester. What kind of child support or tax deduction for families with children undergoing University education may expect is, however, still unclear.
P.s. January 21, 2018: It is now clear that contributions from the "private sector" mentioned above should mainly come from sources (?) other than tuition fees. It is also clear that "moderate tuition fees" for students, as mentioned in the program of the new administration, will come. Still, we are waiting for details on social aspects, like how to support gifted students from all social classes.