Actually college has always been free, but about 10 years ago we adopted the international system of Bachelor and Master, which I think was one of the greatest mistakes ever done in education policy. My older brother had the fortune of still getting in on the old system, called Magister. This degree takes about as long to get as Bachelor and Master together, if not longer, but you have complete freedom of choice on what you want to do and what not. The only mandatory thing for him was learning ancient Greek, but he is studiying archeology so this doesn't come as a surprise.
With the BA/MA system you are always on a timetable and more than that they also introduced tution fees. Those were 500€ per term which is admittedly absurdly cheap compared to NA, but it still caused a lot of protest by both students and university personal. You may now think, why wouldn't the universities want money? Well it's because before they got a budget from the federal states they were in, but with the fees the states cut the budgets down a lot, meaning especially smaller colleges had a lot less money than before. In 2010 I think they started abolishing the fees in the first few states, now the last has gotten rid of them.
Now there is also a lot of protest against the BA/MA system and studies show that more people quit their education now before getting a degree (due to stress), than with the old system. This of course is in the end more expensive for the states than people studing 2-3 years longer, since those people atleast get a valuable degree in the end. Maybe with a bit of luck they get back to old system. Not that I would benefit from that anymore, but I would wish future generations can get the true german college experience back; freedom of thought and research instead of timetables and grades.
Sorry for the rambling, I just think education policies are extremely important for a societies well being and seeing how screwed up it is in many countries makes me insane.
Well when I mentioned political science as an useless degree, I looked at it from a german perspective. Over here you don't need any other degree to study law, you just go right in. There are also no tution fees for any kind of degree, so judging by those facts getting one degree in order to get another is not really necessary. Meaning political science is usually not a gateway degree, it's the thing people get because they want to work with political science in the future. And as that it's a pretty useless degree.
Like media theory. I know so many people doing that and nobody really knows what it's good for, but they all want jobs in the media; e.g. journalism, but I'd say if you want to become a journalist study journalism...
Fine Arts here is more like music than art. My favorite majors are the Art History ones. Cause they are totally getting a job. Not.
Not entirely true though, if you do it correctly. It's all about connections and putting that extra work in while you study. I for example joined a project that researches a medieval university that wasn't really looked at much before. I'm going to help write a book about it and when I am done I'll get writer's credit and will have connections to the museum that helped us uncover the university's documents.
Speaking of something that will get you nowhere: majoring Political Science. I can come to the same conclusions as those guys do, whithout getting a degree in it just by reading the newspapers on a regular basis.
This is why the arguments for higher education being necessary are so ridiculous to me. The credentialization of society as a whole illustrated that the more people that have or "need" degrees the more meaningless they are. Employers just want to see a degree listed in your education because somehow that means you're capable of doing something. Most of the actual knowledge required for a good number of job fields could be taught in a much smaller amount of time than 4 years or even 2 years. But education is a business like anything else so they have to find ways to make their money.
In Germany we call that 'Ausbildung' and it's one of the reason our economy isn't going down the drain (atleast not as much as it could have). I did it too... but it wasn't my kind of work. I'm more of a thinker than a doer. It's still a great system, many jobs that need you to get a degree in other countries are training on the job here. I heard some other EU countries want to adopt the system too like Spain and France.