Germany-665x385Yes, it’s true: US students who have a conversational knowledge of German have been invited to attend German universities for free. I would like to encourage all US students to take them up on this offer. Germany has some of the best universities in the world, and being centrally located in Europe, any student attending universities in Germany will have relatively easy access to Europe’s most significant cities. What an adventure.

Germany is able to make this offer because German universities are made up of, for the most part, libraries and classrooms, and because Germany doesn’t use federal tax money in the form of financial aid to support farm teams for professional sports that already generate billions of dollars a year in revenue (as if they couldn’t fund their own farm teams), and because Germany isn’t embroiled in massively unnecessary overseas wars, and because the German government isn’t spending more on their military than the next eight nations combined.

But none of that is the real issue. The real issue with higher education in the United States is that it’s being turned more and more into a profit center and less and less into an educational center. The ultimate goal for higher ed. is to spend as little as possible on it while charging the same tuition and fees. Yes, that’s it. That is why there’s a lot of nonsense rhetoric about a higher ed “crisis” (the only crisis is that it’s being defunded), and why there’s a big push for computers to educate our students rather than teachers, and why over 70% of our college classes are being taught by adjuncts, and why non-profit educational institutions with occasionally bad spending habits are being demonized while for-profit educational institutions engaged in massively fraudulent practices are being defended, and on and on.

Here’s the big picture: US big business wants to take as much of your tax money from you as possible while giving back to you as little as possible in return, and it is willing to sacrifice America’s intellectual capital — and its future — in order to do so. It is willing to sacrifice its own country, you, and your children in order to make a little bit more money.

That is what the “higher ed crisis” is all about. That and nothing else. The “crisis” in US higher ed. is only about the full transformation of US higher ed. into a profit center rather than an educational center. It starts with tuition being turned into a profit center in the form of student loans, and it continues into daily operations being turned into profit centers in the form of contractors, testing centers, educational technology, and the elimination of full time instructional staff.

So I’ve just given you the magic key to all of this rhetoric of “change” and “innovation” in higher ed: when someone says they are educational innovators, you need to hear this: “I want to take more of your money while giving you less in return.” When you hear people talk about a crisis in higher ed., you need to hear this: “I want to take more of your money while giving you less in return.” When you hear the words “MOOCs should be offered for college credit,” you need to hear this: “I want to take more of your money while giving you less in return.”

And when you hear the word “socialism,” you need to hear this: “I’m going to convince you that spending your tax money to benefit you is ‘socialism’ while spending your tax money on my personal profit is ‘capitalism.’ I’m going to do this because I think you’re stupid enough to believe that.”

Are you? I hope not. Vote Republican in the next election, though, and you’ll be saying nothing else.

Let me put it another way: you’re already paying more than enough in taxes for you and your children to have free quality 10310089_10152792389654255_1764711481482102606_neducation through four years of college. But the part of your tax money that should be earmarked for education is being spent instead on bank profits, college sports, massively inflated administration, massive profits for for-profit educational institutions that don’t really educate their students, and — get this — on industry lobbyists who use the profits made from your tax money to keep you from receiving any benefit from it.

So when a politician says there isn’t money in the budget for education, ask them what they’re spending these billions of dollars of revenue on instead. A $1 trillion plane that doesn’t work (i.e., defense contractor profits)? Another unnecessary foreign war (i.e., defense contractor profits)? A ten year road project (i.e., payback for graft)? Ask where the money is going, and ask in detail. You’re a voter. You’re a US citizen. It’s your money. You have the right.

Defund for-profit colleges. Defund unnecessary wars. Spend American tax dollars on American citizens or, in other words, spend your money on you and your children. Tax money is your money. Don’t forget that. It is yours. Invest in America’s future by investing in education, our only source of intellectual capital, and invest in education by investing in teachers. Machines don’t educate people. Only people do.

Anyone who tells you anything else is, literally, selling something.

If you’re serious about pursuing this option, you may want to check out Rebecca Schuman’s blog on Slate to learn a little bit about how German universities are run.Education as Social Good

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14 thoughts on “Germany Opens Up Free College to US Students

  1. Wow, I thought this was going to be an interesting article, before I realized it was just a lot of Fox-induced projectile Republican/Libertarian oral vomit. So you’re saying. SOCIALIST government is better than ours, with better educational programs and government funding. Oops, are you sure your friends are going to like you saying that, Mr Patriot? If you like Fetmany so much, and hate America and its government so much, PLEASE bagel free to stfu and move there. Oh wait, you’d have to be smart enough and educated enough and culturally advanced enough to learn another language. Never mind, just sit there in your redneck red state and have some cheese with your wine.

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    1. Haha, no, you totally don’t get my point. In fact, you got it completely backwards, as my point is that when the middle class votes Republican it screws itself. I’m not advocating capitalism or socialism. I am instead talking about how those words are used in public discourse to benefit certain people. As a US taxpayer, I’m exercising my right to express how I want my tax money spent, and that would be on building my own country’s intellectual capital rather than fighting an unnecessary war overseas that benefits no one but defense contractors.

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      1. Dear JR,
        you are, unfortunately, responding to an imbecile….ah well. Irony is lost on those who haven’t the time or the capacity to think.
        As to your post— right on! It is a very terse and dramatic summary of the situation

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks, Randy. I don’t think the respondent is an imbecile, but I do think he’s relatively young, and no, probably doesn’t process irony very well :). I suspect his position is fairly close to yours and mine, but he just doesn’t see that yet.

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  2. I agree with the gist of the article, but I take issue with the partisan slant at the end. It implies that Democrats are supportive when the assault on the American education system has been very bipartisan. The point that defunding education equals divesting in America and America’s future should resonate with people across the political spectrum. And the political elite, on both sides of the aisle, should be held accountable for the anti-Americanism inherent in their activities.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s a fair criticism of my article, Studebakerhawk. I had some qualms about posting a partisan attack on the GOP at the end too. But I did it because, I think, I see the current situation a bit differently from you. I agree with you that both the GOP and the Democrats are complicit in attacks on higher ed., but I don’t think the degree of complicity is nearly the same. I’d also like to add that my partisan comments are directed more toward state-level politics than national politics: GOP state governors are far more likely to impose corporate models on higher ed. Schools run following corporate models are run primarily for the benefit of administrators rather than students, and are far more committed to divesting faculty from academic governance — when faculty are the primary educators on campus. I cite as examples what’s been going on in Florida recently and what has been happening at BGSU and the University of Toledo in Ohio. At U. Toledo, hundreds of students protested because the university president was given a six figure bonus by the board around the same time that he announced massive personnel cuts.

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  3. I teach business (free market capitalism) at a private university. We take no gov’t support. How ironic that before I read your rant, I read an article and took a survey about the goals of the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. It must be disappoint for you to know that the richest American is also the most generous. Without corporations like his, there would be no money to support your agenda. But then, I am a Republican so I guess that makes me stupid according to your rant.

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    1. You’re sadly trapped in an either/or mindset that thinks only one way about everything, Keith. I’m not opposed to people being rich on principle, or to profits, and I think it’s great that the Bill and Melinda Gates foundations does so much good. That doesn’t change the fact that too much tax money is being diverted into corporate profits at the expense of our own country. Capitalism does not mean you screw your own people every chance you get, and just for the record, there’s no bigger fantasy than that of the free market. Markets are either regulated by a government that is concerned with the good of all of its citizens or are manipulated by unprincipled people with the economic power to do so. The 2008 crash is about all of the evidence you need in support of my last claim.

      Don’t forget: every taxpayer has the right to dictate how taxes are spent.

      Not everything is made better by the profit motive, and I would say that evidence points to the fact that the profit motive pretty well wrecks education. Education at all levels needs to be demonetized, non-profit, and purely a service industry. Our intellectual capital is too valuable a resource to leave at the hands of people who care about nothing other than squeezing that much more money out of US taxpayers. And yeah, I’m talking about corporations.

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      1. Thanks for you reply. My position on capitalism is simple. It is not perfect and some controls are absolutely necessary. However, when it comes to producing the most wealth for the most people, nothing else comes close. (an exception might be oil rich countries but they play by different rules because of their oil revenue). While other systems may be interesting to talk about, they have failed repeatedly.

        With regards to corporate income tax. We (USA) have the second highest rate in the world after Japan. By the way, Japan is in the midst of their second decade of slow growth if not recession. We are into our 6th year. Who has the lowest? After you take out the the lowest four (island states) it is Sweden, Taiwan, India, Malayasia as the lowest.

        Greed is often associated with capitalism. However, greed is universal. Consider the dictators in socialistic/communistic countries. Venezuela is approaching a revolution because of the greed of it’s leaders. Others would be Cuba, N. Korea… more could be added. Point being, it is not just capitalists. In fact, as all ready mentioned, millionaires and billionaires are often the most generous.

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      2. Keith — let’s just say that I agree with everything you say. What does that have to do with anything that I’ve said? I can believe that capitalism is the best economic system in general, but it’s certainly not a good way to run higher ed. That’s my only point. I’m really not advocating capitalism or socialism: I just care about the best way to run our educational system so that it actually benefits students.

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      3. Indeed, there is much wrong with higher-ed today. I would agree something is not right. As I mentioned, I teach for a private school. I have not had a raise in 6 years. In fact, I have had cuts. I left the private sector to teach. My choice, but at great sacrifice. I made more money in 1992 than I do today and that is without adjusting for inflation. Many of our students leave with debt. It is the very thing we teach against. Granted, it is an “investment” and better than no education but very expensive. I guess my point is, it is not just for-profits. It is a problem at my institution and is probably worse at state supported schools. The greed and inefficiency there are hidden by the seemingly unending tax dollars.

        I think the next 10 – 15 years will bring a tremendous change in the way education is delivered if it is to be available to all. I think MOOCS will morph into something a little different and will be utilized more. If students can take a class online from a world class professor for free but still have help when needed, get credits, and at fraction of the prices then many will jump on it. Many schools will not survive if they don’t adapt. As for me, I am retiring next spring and will be moving into the next chapter of my life. It will become a spectator sport. Thanks for being reasonable to chat with.

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      4. Keith — the only people who think MOOCs are a good idea are people who are selling ed. tech. for very high profits or who don’t know anything about teaching our students. MOOCs aren’t the answer for most students, simply because so many of them graduate high school with such low skills that they aren’t capable of reading and following complex written instructions and aren’t capable of working independently. MOOCs aren’t cheap, either. The latest reporting on MOOCs is that they require so much money to develop that it’s actually cheaper to use teachers.

        The only way out of our higher ed/student loan crisis is to actually fund higher ed.

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  4. Wow, that’s a great initiative. Getting and spreading education shall always be easy. I would like to do my bit by offering free lecturing, tutoring, research support related to Indian Philosophy, Ayurveda or Yoga.

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