Will we still have a semester ticket?
We have good news: there will still be a semester ticket and the fight was worth it. Instead of a price increase to 245 € for the winter semester 2023/24, we were able to negotiate a contract with better conditions for students all over Brandenburg as part of IG SemTix (Interessensgemeinschaft Semesterticket Berlin-Brandenburg). The semester ticket now costs €200 per semester.
What exactly happened after the ballot at Viadrina?
After our ballot, in which the majority of the student body decided against a semester ticket at the conditions initially set, ballots followed at other Brandenburg universities. The majority of students at BTU Cottbus, HNE Eberswalde, the University of Potsdam and the Potsdam University of Applied Sciences also voted against the offer at the time, with the gradual increase to €245 for the winter semester 2023/24. As a result, the topic of the semester ticket received a whole new dimension of attention, both in the media in countless radio reports and newspaper articles, as well as in Brandenburg state politics, among local transportation companies and at the VBB itself. In general, there was great concern that the semester ticket would be abolished if the various players could not come to an agreement, because this would mean that everyone would lose.
Several parties and also parliamentary groups in the Brandenburg state parliament publicly spoke out against increasing the semester ticket price, and the idea of continuing the moratorium that had existed last year remained. Ultimately, however, the Brandenburg Ministry of Finance rejected the moratorium. The moratorium from Corona funds, whereby the semester ticket price in SoSe 2021 and WiSe 2021/22 could be frozen by a subsidy of €10 per student, could not be continued for legal reasons, as the state government would not have closed the universities. Also budgetary means would not be available in Brandenburg for a durable support and financing of the semester ticket. Thus, there is no financial support from the state of Brandenburg and politics for the coming semesters. The state of Berlin, on the other hand, is continuing its moratorium and thus the semester ticket price in Berlin will be frozen for another year.
The VBB, however, has made a new offer to IG SemTix and thus to the Brandenburg universities. This includes a uniform price for all Brandenburg universities and the semester ticket can continue to be used in the VBB overall network. The price is 200,00 € each in SoSe 2022 and WiSe 2022/23. The student parliament of the Viadrina has voted on 05.01.2022 to accept the one-year contract with the new conditions.
Why didn’t the price stay the same and why don’t we have a 365 € ticket?
So, in summary, we could not keep the current price because the moratorium was rejected by the politicians and they will not subsidize a 365 € ticket for students at this time. In the negotiations with the VBB we could not achieve that the price remains the same or increases to a maximum of 182,50 € per semester, which would correspond to a 365 € ticket in terms of price. However, we are relieved that we were finally able to reach a compromise with the VBB and that we will continue to receive the semester ticket.
What can I do if I can no longer pay the semester fee in one go?
Despite the fact that we were able to agree on an offer and compromise with the VBB, this still means a strong price increase for us students, not only of the semester ticket price, but also of the semester fee. In order to relieve you of this burden, we have spoken with the Department of Student Affairs at the Viadrina. In order to be able to pay the semester fee in two or three installments, please contact the department at firstname.lastname@example.org. Furthermore, the full fee must be paid by the end of the re-registration period.
What will happen with the semester ticket?
The student parliament has voted for a one-year contract and thus the contract will expire after WiSe 2022/23. During this time, a report by the VBB is to be prepared together with the universities, the figures of which can then be used as a basis for future negotiations, including with politicians. The last figures on the basis of which the VBB has negotiated the last few years come from a general traffic survey from 2015. We as a part of the IG SemTix will continue to stand up for a fair and affordable semester ticket.
Semester ticket? Fair and affordable!
WHAT IS THE SEMESTERTICKET?
The Semesterticket is a transport ticket for students at 50 universities in Berlin and Brandenburg who have signed a contract with the VBB (Verkehrsbund Berlin Brandenburg). Depending on the contract, students can thus use the entire public transport system in Berlin and/or Brandenburg. The price of the semester ticket is included in the semester fee of each university. Thus, the semester ticket is compulsorily paid by all students of these universities, because the ticket is based on a solidarity model. The more universities and the more students thus participate in this solidarity ticket, the cheaper it becomes for the individual. At the European University Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder), for example, we are currently paying 170.00€ per person and per semester for the semester ticket in the winter semester 2021/22.
WHAT HAS HAPPENED IN THE PAST?
The struggle for a fair and affordable semester ticket in Berlin and Brandenburg is almost as old as the semester ticket itself. The price for the semester ticket is constantly rising and many universities in Berlin and Brandenburg pay different prices for different services. These result from the VBB’s direct and individual negotiations with the individual universities. Since spring 2020 (March/April), new negotiations with the VBB have been ongoing, now no longer with the individual universities, but with the IGSemTix (Interessensgemeinschaft Semesterticket Berlin Brandenburg). The IGSemTix was founded in the course of these negotiations and consists of student representatives from the universities in Berlin and Brandenburg and is committed to a uniform and long-term solution with regard to the semester ticket. Since its formation, the IGSemTix has been conducting negotiations with the VBB and Berlin and Brandenburg politicians and, as a united association, has been fighting for a fair and affordable semester ticket. Means thereby are public and lobby work.
WHAT ARE OUR DEMANDS?
We as AStA of the Viadrina, and thus a part of the IGSemTix, demand an affordable and fair semester ticket. In concrete terms, this means a short-term freeze of the semester ticket prices in Berlin and Brandenburg for at least one more year and a long-term 365€ ticket for students throughout Berlin and Brandenburg. The 365€ ticket is an annual ticket and thus the semester ticket fee would be 182,50€ per semester. This will only work if the student body, IGSemTix, VBB and Berlin and Brandenburg politicians work together. The last two actors must actively participate in the negotiations and the politicians must subsidize the semester ticket. That this is possible is shown by the VBB’s 365€ Azubi Ticket, which already exists in Berlin and Brandenburg.
WHAT IS HAPPENING AT THE MOMENT?
IGSemTix is confident about the situation in Berlin. The VBB is based on the price increases, but the Berlin politicians, i.e. the House of Representatives and the Senate Department for Environment, Transport and Climate Protection, verbally promise their financial support for the student body and the semester ticket. The current situation in Brandenburg, on the other hand, shows great stagnation. At the beginning of October, the IGSemTix received an email with a price list from the VBB demanding exactly the same prices as already in spring 2020. So, despite the negotiations and the efforts of the IGSemTix, the VBB does not move a bit. Brandenburg’s politicians, i.e. the Brandenburg state parliament and the Ministry for Infrastructure and State Planning (MIL), are hesitant to negative about financial support for the semester ticket.
This puts us as a student body in a predicament. At the Viadrina and at other universities in Berlin and Brandenburg, the contract for the semester ticket expires after the current winter semester 2020/21. Thus, a new contract would have to be signed by the beginning of December in order for the
Semesterticket continues to be made available to the student body. If a new contract would be signed, then the semester ticket would cost 245,00€ in two years, i.e. for the winter semester 2023/24 at the Viadrina – 75,00€ more than at the moment. The price increase would take place step by step, i.e. 200.00€ for the summer semester 2022 and then an increase of 15.00€ per semester until the 245.00€ is reached. The IGSemTix and we as AStA continue our public relations and lobbying work.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN IN THE FUTURE?
A new contract will have to be signed at many universities in Berlin and Brandenburg in the near future. In Berlin, ballots have to be held if there is such a price increase; in Brandenburg, these are optional. In Brandenburg, the student representation can also decide on this issue alone. In a ballot, the entire student body of a college or university can vote on whether they think such a high semester ticket price is still acceptable. If the majority of students vote against the semester ticket at this price, there will be no ticket at this university for at least one semester, but the option is open to enter into new negotiations afterwards. If the majority of students vote in favor of the Semesterticket at this price, then the Semesterticket will continue to run under the stated conditions. However, this does not exclude further lobbying and new negotiations.
WHAT CAN I DO AS A STUDENT?
It is important for the further progress of the semester ticket to inform yourself about the issue. This is possible via the social media channels of the IGSemTix (@semtix365) or the AAtA of the Viadrina (@astaviadrina). There will be face-to-face and online events in the coming days and weeks as part of our semester ticket campaign. You can find the program on our social media channels or on the flyers that we distribute once a week in the Gräfin-Dönhoff-Building (GD) of our university. All students are cordially invited to these. Besides informing yourself about it, it is of great importance to bring the topic to your environment, i.e. to acquaintances, friends, fellow students and to discuss it.