The next time you pull out your checkbook to pay that hefty tuition bill or pay down your student loan, consider this: there are countries where students pay nothing to attend university. Denmark, Sweden and Germany, all have tuition-free college.
WGBH Radio’s On Campus team wondered how these countries do it, and if there are things the U.S. can learn from their model. Their search to understand how German universities keep costs down and quality up began in the Rhineland.
It was a frigid evening on the banks of the Rhine in the medieval city of Cologne. Under the vaulted ceiling of an old gothic church, the 80-piece university orchestra was tuning up.
In the land of Beethoven and Handel, it makes sense that a university would invest a lot in its orchestra. But that commitment extends far beyond the music program. In Germany, one of the world’s wealthiest countries, taxpayers fully subsidize the cost of public higher education.
While American students now graduate with an average of nearly $30,000 of debt, college in Germany has always been free.