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Minister stirs tuition fees debate

THE EDUCATION Ministry is analysing the possibility of introducing tuition fees for full-time university studies, Education Minister Eugen Jurzyca told the parliamentary committee on education. After his comments attracted heavy criticism from students and opposition, he stressed that tuition fees are not in the ministry’s plans for this parliament, nor are they mentioned in the government’s programme.

THE EDUCATION Ministry is analysing the possibility of introducing tuition fees for full-time university studies, Education Minister Eugen Jurzyca told the parliamentary committee on education. After his comments attracted heavy criticism from students and opposition, he stressed that tuition fees are not in the ministry’s plans for this parliament, nor are they mentioned in the government’s programme.

The mention of tuition fees provoked strong reactions from representatives of university students.

“We are against this for as long as the government does not prove that this step will improve quality,” said the head of the Student Council of Universities, Juraj Tilesch, as quoted by the Sme daily.

Opposition Smer MP Dušan Čaplovič said that one university degree should be free regardless of whether the student is full-time or part-time. If the student wants to get another degree in another programme, he or she should pay for it.

There is uneven support for tuition fees among the coalition partners. While Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) said it would welcome fees, the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) rejected the idea. Prime Minister Iveta Radičová, who along with Jurzyca is a member of the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ), stressed that the government’s programme statement is binding.

Jurzyca said that if the analysis showed that it would be appropriate for tuition fees to be introduced under specific circumstances and in some specific form, the ministry would communicate this even if the idea lacked political support, so as to inform people about what would help the education sector. He intends to elaborate further steps only after the results of the analysis are available.

Currently, full-time university students in Slovakia pay fees only if they exceed the standard length of studies or attend more universities.


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