University Students Graduate With 23k Average Debt
A few years ago, BBC News reported that students starting university would be faced with an average debt of £23,000 upon graduation, according to a survey by Push, the independent guide to UK universities.
Just over two thousand students at various stages of their degree courses took part in the Student Debt Survey. What emerged was an average of more than £5,000 a year per student is being racked up in debt, and that figure has been growing ever since.
The National Union of Students has done separate research, and its findings suggest that in addition, some courses have higher 'hidden' costs than others. Computer science courses and maths fared worse, as students on these courses had to fork out an average of £1,430.40 a year for books and equipment. Wes Streeting, the NUS president said universities needed to be more open.
Despite the fact that the government claims to be spending £5bn annually on student support, the Push survey highlights wide regional and institutional variations in the amount of debt incurred. Typically, students in England are suffering the most. Their debt averages a whopping £5,271 for each year they spend at university, with some London students saying that when they graduate they'll be over £30,000 in the red! Student debt levels are also rising in Northern Ireland and Wales, both of which now top £4,000 a year on average.
The recession is thought to be making matters worse, as university students are finding it increasingly difficult to get part-time work for the few months of the year they're not studying. Many employers are simply not in a position to take on casual labour at this time.
Students were invited to comment on the BBC News website. Here are a few excerpts from some who did:
"I have graduated from university this year, and am lucky enough to have found myself a job but I owe over £20,000 to the Student Loans Company, plus interest. I also have a £1500 overdraft in a student account (now a graduate), which is maxed out, and am £200 into another overdraft on another account. The summer before starting university I managed to save over £1000, which is a good idea. But four years on, saving is impossible as I have debts up to my eye-balls." - Kelly, Huddersfield, UK
"I'm off to Uni this year and the financial situation is very scary. The current system for applying is flawed as it is. Costs are far too expensive, my accommodation this year is £94 per week, this has gone up from the £86 in the brochure. So my accommodation this year is over £4000, and currently I only have a student loan of £3500. I keep having second thoughts because of the cost - is this degree worth four years of debt and the possibility of not getting a job once I pass!?" - Alexander, Bourne, Lincolnshire
"I think the system of student loans needs rethinking. I left university four years ago with £14,000 worth of debt, and as I have not been able to pay much of this back, the interest it has accrued now leaves me with a debt of over £17,000. To come out of university with this increasing debt hanging over you is not the way forward for young people." - Lou, Southampton, Hampshire
"I still will end up with £15K plus of debts, despite working and keeping budget under tight control. Universities at times cost a hell of a lot of money in tuition, books, accommodation and travel. The last year of university is most expensive. It puts lots of pressure on you and knocks your confidence down at the end of education knowing you owe so much debt. Government should find a way where work and education can be integrated in order to reduce student's debts." - Sach, Liverpool
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