Students’ £20bn debt revealed

UK university students are £20bn in debt, a YouGov report has found.

Of the £20bn owed, the vast majority was owed to state-owned Student Loans Company with 15 per cent of debt owed to family, friends or commercial lenders.

The report also revealed that students are spending more than they are earning, with the average student income amounting to £9,708 (including tuition fee loans) but overspending totalling £726 per student each year. The current intake of first-year undergraduates is the first to pay £9,000 tuition fees; other undergraduate years are paying £3,000.

Nearly three-quarters (72 per cent) of students have a student loan while 40 per cent receive maintenance grants. Just under half receive money from their parents, the average amount received is £64. Nearly one-third have a part-time job; the average number of hours worked per week is 11 hours and the average wage is £91.

The study, which surveyed undergraduates and postgraduates currently studying at UK accredited universities, also shows that most students think that attending university is vital for their future career. Over one quarter of students believe that higher tuition fees are not worth the money; 40 per cent think a university education is still worth the £9,000 annual cost.

The report’s research director James McCoy said: “Our research shows that despite students getting financial help from the government, their parents, and taking part-time jobs to support themselves, most are still spending more than they are taking in.

“As a result, over a quarter of students say university is not worth the cost of the new, higher tuition fees. There is a very real threat that more young people will opt to skip university altogether,” he warned.

LLB applications rose by five per cent this year, compared to a 3.5 per cent rise in overall UCAS applications (1 February 2012).