Average cost of £33,000 for a degree makes student debt soar

18 June 2008 / by Daniela Gieseler
The total level of student debt has reached the record high of £21.95 billion, figures published by the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) reveal.

The National Union of Students (NUS) warned that students graduating under the new fee regime will owe on average £20,000 after completion of their degree.

However, NatWest Bank estimates that the actual cost of a degree, including fees, rent, food and luxuries such as cigarettes and alcohol, amounts to a whopping £33,000 for a three year course.

Undergraduates as well as postgraduates are increasingly taking out bigger student loans in order to keep up with the rising cost of living or to pay top-up tuition fees. During the last financial year they borrowed nearly £4 billion pounds overall – which is up 32 per cent from the year before.

Worryingly, the student debt figures published by DIUS include only Government-subsidised debt owed to the Student Loans Company - money owed to commercial lenders such as credit card companies will have to be added on top of this considerable sum.

Wes Streeting, president of the NUS, commented: “More needs to be done to tackle a culture of indebtedness that has come about through the top-up fees regime.”

The Royal College of Psychiatrists jointly with the Finance and Leasing Association and the Money Advice Trust have meanwhile launched a research project examining the relationship between debt and mental health problems.

The study will examine the social, economic, health and human costs of debt and

aims to improve advisors’, lenders’ and healthcare providers’ knowledge and practice in terms of debt advice and prevention.

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