Date: Tue, 9 Dec 1997 10:08:17 -0800
Sender: Forum on Labor in the Global Economy <LABOR-L@YORKU.CA>
Subject: The strike at German Universities goes on (fwd)
Date: Sat, 06 Dec 1997 09:48:57 -0800
From: Andreas Hippin <>
Subject: The strike at German Universities goes on

100,000 fight back the neoliberal attack on education in Germany

By Andreas Hippin <>, 6 December 1997

More than 40.000 students and pupils took part in a manifestation on Thursday in Duesseldorf, the capital of the federal state of Northrhine-Westphalia. Traffic came to a standstill while student protestors were marching through the central business district to the state assembly. More than 100.000 took to the streets in Germany as a whole to fight back the fiscal attack on education.

Although Anke Brunn, the social democrat secretary for education had left the social democrats annual convention in Hannover to discuss with the students the protestors made it very clear that they would not talk to her. Anke Brunn is responsible for all the cutbacks in education in the state of Northrhine-Westphalia. Her party is as eager to streamline higher education according to the interests of the industry as the conservatives are.

The introduction of tuition fees would make it impossible for children from poorer families to get a university education. University education in Germany is still free of charge at the moment, but the conditions students have to study under are miserable. Apart from overcrowded seminars and lectures many professors are neither willing nor able to fulfill their obligations in teaching.

The contents of education is trimmed according to the demands of mighty sponsors, e.g. the WestLB, a major bank, pays for an academic chair dealing with Modern China at the University of Duesseldorf. Kloeckner and Haniel are paying for East Asian area studies at Duisburg University. It's getting more and more difficult to study the topics you are really interested in. There are more and more obligatory classes, etc.

So one of the questions raised during the protests was why students should pay tuition fees for this kind of job-qualification measures adjusted to the needs of the industry while, their colleagues who are receiving an education within the industry are getting paid for it. Who wants to pay for job-training schemes?

In contrary to 1968 today's generation of student protestors isn't decided yet whether to try to negotiate all the way through the institutions like their predecessors did. Confronted with the arrogance of the former rebels who denounce their protests as apolitical or economic demands there is a sense of confrontation growing stronger amongst today's protestors. More and more students consider themselves part of job-qualifying schemes which makes it simpler to connect their actions with other people's struggles against social cutbacks.

Duisburg's students decided to continue their strike until next Tuesday on a mass meeting attended by 2.000 students on Wednesday. Their demands are still the same: the prohibition of tuition fees, social welfare benefits for everyone, an end to discriminating laws against foreigners living here and more democracy within the university's institutional framework.

After all still more than 70 institutions of higher education are on strike in Germany.