In 2009, there was a big demonstration in Austria called „Uni brennt“. The claim of this movement was the right for everyone to study for free in Austria and getting a guaranteed place in university. As background information, you have to know, that there are currently no tuition fees at the Universities in Austria and there are also no entrance examinations (except medicine and just a few other fields of study). The only thing you need to go to university is having a high school degree. So, as you can imagine, there are a lot more students than free places at the Universities and therefore, the service is horrible. Students get no seats in classes and have to sit on the floor or even can’t get to class because it’s totally filled with people. During the years 2001 and 2006, Universities levied tuition fees in the amount of 363€ (about $480) for one semester, but these fees were scraped by the social democrats in 2006.
When I studied at the University of Illinois (USA) as an exchange student, we didn’t have to pay tuition feeds. But we had to pay some others. Let me enumerate it: A general fee ($262), a Health Insurance Fee ($254), a Health Service Fee ($231), Transportation ($56), Student Initiated Fees ($66), AFMFA Buildings Fees ($315) and a Library Fee ($244). In total for one semester: $1428. In other words: Even if you’re exempt from tuition fees, you have to pay at least nearly three times more in the US for studying than you do in Austria WITH tuition fees.
Some Americans I met were surprised, that there’s no Library Fee in Austria. They follow a pretty simple conclusion: A library costs money for the operators (= the University). If you use this service, you pay for the service. Can you imagine the cry of the students, when the Austrian Universities would decide to levy Library Fees? In America, it seems to be accepted that you have to pay for the service you use.