On my way to Boston, I read an article in the Swiss newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung about an institution the Virginia folks have visited and that relates to our general topic (article in german here). The presidents of both ETH have asked the ETH Council to increase tuition fees. The plan is that fees increase incremental up to 1250 (approx. 1300 USD) Swiss Francs a semester in 2016. This means that fees double within four years. Additionaly an administrative fee of 250 (approx. 260 USD) Francs is planed to be charged from students without a Swiss Matura (high school diploma). The additional income is to be used as follows: one third to help students in financial need and two thirds for enancing the quality of teaching and improving the learning/teaching environment.
The background of these plans is that within the last ten years, student numbers at ETH have increased by 50%. In the same time federal funding has only increased by 25%. There is a considerable financing gap in teaching.
The Council, however, will base its decision not only on the requests by the presidents, but also on a student consultation. This consultation does inquire what students think about the planned increase but also what their actual financial situation is. A considerable number of students have already participated in the consultation. So far they seem to strongly oppose the increase.
Student organisation from the whole country have allied in order to fight higher tuition fees at ETH. They argue that the increase jeopardizes equal opportunities. The president of the ETH Council, on the other side, stresses that tuition fees would still be moderate, considering that the ETH was one of the best universities in Europe.