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£23,000 debt calling for undergraduates

PUBLISHED: 11:18 20 August 2009 | UPDATED: 16:23 07 September 2010

Charlotte Newton THOUSANDS of A-level students will find out today if they have achieved the right grades for university – but new research suggests that they could graduate with debts of £23,000. Anxious pupils at Fortismere, Alexandra Park School, Highg

Charlotte Newton

THOUSANDS of A-level students will find out today if they have achieved the right grades for university - but new research suggests that they could graduate with debts of £23,000.

Anxious pupils at Fortismere, Alexandra Park School, Highgate Wood, Hornsey School for Girls and Greig City Academy will discover this morning if they have made the grade and won a place at their university of choice.

But the UK's largest ever survey of student finance, published this week, reveals that many students who start university this autumn should expect to graduate owing £23,000 - which is £10,000 more than this summer's graduates.

The figures are a sobering thought for any 18-year-old contemplating their future.

Former Highgate Wood pupil Richard Wayoe has just completed his first year at Cambridge, where he is reading medicine.

Mr Wayoe, who lives in Hazellville Road, Crouch End, said: "I have a student loan of £2,500 a year and I'm living on a weekly budget of £70 which has to cover my rent, food and books.

"It's really hard making ends meet and I've found difficulty getting work this summer because of the recession, which has not helped. But I think it is worth it because I'm hoping that medicine will be a career for life and I will have a fruitful job. I'd just urge students to think carefully and take their degrees seriously because you can enter into it blindly."

David Hearn, deputy headteacher of Greig City Academy in Hornsey High Street said: "Leaving university with £23,000 of debt is a massive responsibility for any graduate to start their working life with.

"I don't think this brings the value of a university education into question because that has been proven, but young people do need to think about the value of the degree they are embarking on in terms of how employable they will be when they leave university. With the current state of the economy there are a decreasing number of graduate jobs available."

Adam Jogee, 17, is due to receive his AS level results from Highgate School today. Mr Jogee, who is on London's Youth Parliament said: "It's a really depressing thought that students starting university in September will graduate with this much debt.

"Education is the key to success and the government should be supporting young people and facilitating them to go on to higher education.

"If school leavers think they are going to be lumbered with £23,000 debt they will be dissuaded from going to university and Britain will not have a work force equipped to compete in the global market."

David Lammy, Minister of State for Higher Education and MP for Tottenham, pointed out that the Government spent £5billion on support students this year.

He added: "Getting a degree remains a strong investment with graduates earning on average considerably more over a lifetime than people without a degree."

The annual survey by Push, the UK's leading independent resource for prospective students, has found that next year typical student debt will top £7.000 and will rise in succeeding years.

The increase in debt may in part be down to fewer part-time jobs being available for students during the recession, costing many of them around £2,000 in annual earnings.

The Push Survey suggested that in London some graduates will have over £30,000 of debt because of the higher cost of living in the capital.


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