Spanish universities could raise their tuition fees by as much as 50 percent this year, claimed a report by El Mundo on Thursday, after the nation's education minister Jose Ignacio Wert raised the proposal during a meeting with university representatives.
Presently, Spain's students pay close to 15 percent of the full cost of their studies (an average of 5,000 to 7,000 euros), with the remaining amount coming from subsidies by their regional governments.The Spanish Education Ministry however is now suggesting that students should fork out up to 25 percent of the full cost, in order to reduce the yearly expenditure of regional governments, as well as to encourage "higher performance in the use of resources."
Spain's Secretary of State for Education Montserrat Gomendio also proposed to the Sectorial Conference of University Policy that repeat students (students who fail any courses) should pay extra for any additional enrolments into their course, as "repeaters should not be perpetuated in college."
The ultimate goal will be to raise funding for university so that the community will not have to finance around 85 percent of a student's university education, said Gomendio, according to El Mundo.
Spain's regions are likely to face 3 billion euros ($3.94 billion) in education spending cuts this year, and a further 7 billion from healthcare, as the government metes out austerity measures in order to avoid the need for a bailout.
The Spanish government has already confirmed this week that it would allow universities to increase classroom sizes by 20 percent, as well as make teachers work longer hours, in order to make up for the expected cuts.
According to an EU survey cited by Bloomberg BusinessWeek, over 68 percent of young Spaniards are considering emigrating, despite being one of the best-educated generations that Spain has ever produced.
Compared to just 30 years ago, Spain's high school graduation rates are now at 86 percent from a mere 50 percent; but youth unemployment rates are at 49 percent, meaning that many Spanish youth are now worse off than their parent's generation has ever been.
"What can we say to parents who realize that for the first time in history their children will be worse off than them? What can we say?" said Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy during a speech in Seville in February.
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And with university fees now expected to rise significantly starting from 2012/2013, the Spanish government will now have to balance between the previous strategy adopted by former Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero to create a "knowledge economy" and a newer, more pragmatic, approach to deal with the nation's debt and deficit cutting.