Student debt hits all-time high

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Student debt hits all-time high

A study by The Sutton Trust has found that students in England will now owe an average of £44,000 upon graduating from university. English graduates will now owe more than students in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and even the USA, where the average debt from private for-profit universities is about £29,000.

The researchers expressed concern that a university education would no longer be a viable option for everyone, especially those from poorer backgrounds, saying that although, ‘full-time undergraduate university enrolment has recovered since the imposition of £9,000 fees’ it was worrying that, ’the number of part-time and mature students enrolling at UK institutions across recent years has dropped’.

The Chair of The Sutton Trust, Sir Peter Lampl said that, “The massive increase in tuition fees from just over £3,000 to £9,000 per annum and the abolition of the maintenance grant results in the poorest English university graduates facing debts on graduation of over £50,000 with interest rates on the debt compounding at up to 3% over inflation.

These debt levels are by far the highest in the English-speaking world and are more than double average debt levels at universities in the United States, where students study for four-year programmes, rather than three.

They impact on the ability of graduates to go to graduate schools, to afford a mortgage, the timing of having children and other major life decisions.”

This announcement follows a study published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in November, which found that on average students in England pay the highest tuition fees in the world.

The amount of debt for graduates could increase even further under the governments plan from the autumn, to allow universities who can prove ‘good-quality’ teaching to set their own tuition fees.

Image courtesy of Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Rachel King

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