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Polish college students find purse strings cut

Like everything else in Poland, higher education is facing a cash crisis.

There is consternation among students over the announcement of steep increases in the monthly fees they are charged for bed and board in dormitories.

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The present fees are hopelessly uneconomic. But the proposed monthly rate of 2,000 zlotys for a bed and 4,500 zlotys for board (two meals a day) will in many cases absorb almost all the combined state allocation and obligatory family contribution to their upkeep. Monthly earnings for Poles average only 7,000 zlotys.

There is to be a ''means test'' to fix aid for the poorest families. But it seems more than likely that ''the poorest of us simply will not be able to carry on,'' as one student said.

''The state cannot give the students more money,'' it was said at a ministry press conference. Without doubt, there is not enough to sustain education on the scale of recent years.

It is probably part of a necessary plan to check years of ''over-production'' of students. Thousands each year have found there were no jobs needing their qualifications. For years, an education expert said, Poland has been producing too many graduates for its job market. This year there are 7,000 fewer admissions.

Students, it was said at the ministry, ''must not only count on the state, but also on themselves and their parents.'' They are going to be allowed to take on ''permanent, full-time work.'' Most already do odd jobs to earn pocket money.

There were no suggestions as to how they are to find time for a full-time job and study. It all sounds like a revolutionary retreat from the communist state's claim that its education is ''freer'' than that in the capitalist West.

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