Students starting university in the coming months can expect to owe more than £23,000 by the time they graduate, according to a survey released today. The Push Student Debt Survey, which interviewed over 2,000 students at 137 university campuses, uncovered a 10.6 per cent rise in debts accrued from each year of study.
Push speculate that the increase may be partly down to the lack of part-time and temporary jobs available during the recession. However, the research highlighted a notable disparity in levels of debt across different universities. At six universities, average projected debt has already broken the £25,000 barrier, far outstripping the current average of £15,812. At 20 other universities, mainly in Scotland, the figure is below £10,000. North of the border, students benefit from a more generous funding system.
This year’s graduates, the first to pay higher tuition fees, have found their situation worsened by the shrinking graduate job market. But Johnny Rich, editor of Push.co.uk, suggests all is not lost: ‘the advantages of having a degree still vastly outweigh the costs and the Push survey shows that, with high quality advice and information, students can keep their debts down while still enjoying the benefits of university.’
Rich asks, though, whether the cost of higher education will start to turn young people away from university. ‘These figures will give next year’s review of student funding a real headache. They beg the question whether we’ve now passed the point where students can be expected to stump up any more towards their education.’