Free University Education in Europe – Honestly!
Tuition fees across most of the Western world are now high enough to discourage many people from taking the educational leap from secondary to tertiary. This reduced talent pool creates shortages in skilled jobs which, in turn, create problems for economies. So please, welcome to the stage, Germany.
The largest economy in Europe, and the fourth largest in the world, offers all students – domestic and international – the opportunity to attend their universities and receive a degree in their chosen subject, in English, for free. It’s true.
It’s not free, however, for the Government, with Berlin’s tax payers footing a bill of over €330m per year on international students. But why do they bother?
The answer is obvious, according to Steffen Krach, Berlin’s Secretary of Science, who believes investment in, and retention of, your intellectual property is essential, “Knowledge and know-how come to us from other countries and results in jobs when these students have business ideas and stay in Berlin to create their start-ups”. This certainly seems to ring true, with 40,000 new companies started in Berlin each year.
In the UK, for example, where universities can charge up to £12,000 per year for international students, and average property prices in central London are €11,500PSM (per square metre), the prospect of investing in a property alongside your child’s education seems, for most of us, unreachable. Compare that to just €3,500PSM for Germany’s capital, combined with nominal ‘semester’ fees (rarely in excess of €150 per semester and which usually include free public transport), and you start to see why parents the world over are giving serious consideration to an investment one-two of property and education.
In real terms, that is a like-for-like new-build one bedroom apartment of 50sqm costing €575,000 in London versus €175,000 in Berlin.
This progressive (or historic?) attitude to education being a right rather than a privilege is underpinning the incredibly strong and sustainable real estate market in the city. Attracting bright minds from across the world creates business, it drives economies, it creates demand, it creates tax receipts, and it creates an environment conducive with success, to which Berlin, more than many cities, is long overdue