Price hikes: Student welfare groups call for swift action

The German National Association for Student Affairs or Deutsches Studentenwerk (DSW) and World University Service Germany have appealed to the German government to provide more support for students against the backdrop of a closed meeting on 29 to 30 August of the ruling coalition government in Meseberg, east Germany, to discuss possible relief measures.

“With the present price hikes, many students are facing a social crisis in the autumn,” warned DSW General Secretary Matthias Anbuhl. “The Social Democrat, Green and Free Democrat coalition must therefore provide a relief package for students consisting of direct payments, regular adjustments of government grants for inflation and an immediate increase in entitlement rates for grants.”

Anbuhl welcomed the government looking into direct payments for students but emphasised that these needed to be made quickly and without excessive red tape. He called on Minister of Finance Christian Lindner to come up with swift solutions.

Anbuhl suggested that Germany follow the example of Austria, which has introduced automatic adjustments of government student support to inflation levels and an immediate increase in eligibility rates of up to 12%.

Furthermore, Anbuhl called on the 16 state governments to provide additional funding for the student welfare services run by his organisation to ensure that there are no further rises in rent and price levels in student halls of residence and student restaurants.

While also backing the government’s consideration of direct payments for students, Kambiz Ghawami, chairman of World University Service Germany, warned that students from Africa, Asia and Latin America who are currently studying in Germany should not be forgotten.

Ghawami emphasised that two years of the COVID-19 pandemic have resulted in the collapse of support from many of these students’ parents who have become unemployed through the shutdown of millions of factories and companies in these regions, in which governments provide neither short-time working benefits nor other forms of assistance.

Ghawami argued that the crisis had been exacerbated by the war in Ukraine which has contributed to massive price hikes in the students’ countries of origin in Africa, Asia and Latin America, which have left most of their parents unable to cover study costs.

He suggests that one option for the federal government would be to make the planned Bürgergeld available to overseas students – at least temporarily. Bürgergeld refers to a number of schemes the government is discussing to provide regular payments to citizens in times of need.

Ghawami also called on the state governments to set up or augment existing emergency funds for overseas students who have run into a financial crisis through no fault of their own, so that they are not forced to give up studying for lack of money.

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