Fast-Track German Finance Student Told to Pay Full Fees

Marcel Pohl might be a student extraordinaire, but that didn’t help when his case was argued in front of the Arnsberg District Court in North Rhine-Westphalia. Earlier this week, the judge ruled that Pohl is responsible for seven semesters of tuition to be paid to the Essen-based School of Economics and Management, even though he completed both his bachelor’s and master’s program in only 20 months.

The school brought a suit against Pohl, saying that he owed tuition for the entire course of study — which typically takes seven semesters — even if he was able to complete his courses early. Pohl’s defense team argued that students who drop out before the degree is completed, and before the seven semesters are up, aren’t required to pay any additional money even though every student signs the same contract upon enrolling.

But the judge at the Arnsberg district court in North Rhine-Westphalia disagreed, and told 22-year-old Pohl on Wednesday that as he used the same facilities to complete his degree that a normal student would, he should have to pay for them.

Marcel Pohl completed 60 examinations in 20 months and gained a grade of 2.3 at the private university, all while carrying out an apprenticeship in a bank. He divided up simultaneous lectures with two friends and swapped notes, while sacrificing a social life and drinking gallons of green tea, he told Die Weltnewspaper.

According to Pohl, the university didn’t raise any objections when he petitioned to be allowed to complete his courses early, although it isn’t certain if the school officials realized exactly how early he planned to complete them. Pohl expressed disappointment at the decision and said that his lawyers were waiting for the decision to be published before launching their appeal.

Previous reports put Pohl’s financial obligation to the university at roughly 3,000 EUR (~$3,750 USD) but Pohl estimates that in case of a loss, he’ll actually be on the hook for over 11,000 EUR. The private school charges roughly 12,000 EUR for the course leading to a bachelor’s diploma and an additional 10,000 EUR for the master’s program. The judge agreed with the school’s argument that these fees didn’t represent a charge per-semester but per-degree, and therefore Pohl should have to pay up.

In its initial filing, the school said that it suffered a 3,000 EUR income loss due to the fact that Pohl went through the program so quickly. Pohl managed to complete the degree with the help of his classmates who attended lectures and took notes in courses that conflicted with Pohl’s schedule. While taking classes at the school, he was also apprenticing at the local bank.