The cost of a university education has risen by 65.6 percent in two years. Up to 7,000 students in Madrid’s six public universities are at risk of not being able to continue their studies because they cannot meet the inflated fees, which will come into effect in September.
The new rises were confirmed Thursday by regional education chief Lucía Figar, who said the policy would be “black and white” in the coming days. The humanities will be least affected, with a rise of 16 percent, while engineering and biology-healthcare will go up by 21 and 26 percent respectively. In total, 189,000 students will face higher fees, with direct grants from the regional government — 40,000 — and students with dispensation for other reasons — 60,000 — unaffected, Figar said Thursday.
The education chief wasted little time in blaming the central PP government for the new hikes. “These are not decisions taken lightly or with cheer. We are in a moment of great difficulty during which Madrid is being asked to cut back more than other regions,” she said. Madrid’s public expenditure has been slashed by a billion euros as part of the government’s austerity drive. “It affects all the wallets of Madrid’s budget, not just education,” Figar said, adding that last week the regional authority had assumed 78 million euros in debt to suppliers on behalf of the Complutense and Politécnica universities, which together have around 125,000 students.
The Socialist leader in Madrid, Tomás Gómez, has called for Figar to resign or be suspended over the increases, terming them “unsustainable and unacceptable,” while also noting that the alternative to university is hardly attractive with youth unemployment in Madrid at 52 percent