Queen Mary tops poll on student debt

December 3, 2004

Students at Queen Mary, University of London, expect to graduate with the highest debts in the country even before top-up fees are introduced, figures reveal this week, writes Chris Johnston.

An Endsleigh Insurance survey of 11,000 students found that Queen Mary students expect to graduate owing about £20,000 compared with a national average of less than £13,000. Most Queen Mary students expect to repay their debts in eight years.

Brighton and Strathclyde universities are among the cheapest. Women at Brighton anticipate the lowest level of debt at £9,400. Men at Strathclyde expect to graduate owing £9,722.

There were significant differences between the sexes in terms of anticipated debt and the time it would take to repay it.

Women graduating from Middlesex University estimate that it will take them 13 years to get back in the black to repay a debt of £14,804. This is four years longer than expected by their male counterparts, who predict an average of £18,000.

Male students at Aston University expect to take just five years to repay their debts, partly because their projected debt of £9,880 is one of the lowest among the 36 institutions surveyed.

The largest difference in expected debt is £4,048 at the London School of Economics, with men estimating £16,111 and women £12,063.

The survey, which included a cross section of institutions in England and Scotland, did not take account of the varying length of time to complete degrees.

Helen Symons, National Union of Students welfare vice-president, said the results indicated that debt was a "harsh fact of life" for a growing number of graduates. "Students should be careful about how much debt they get into. Getting out of debt can take years."

The survey showed how difficult it was for students to assess how long it would take to repay debt, said Dan Vale, head of policy at Citizens Advice.

Tim Larden of Endsleigh said financial education should be made a core component of higher education courses to help students cope with the burden of debt when they graduate.

"It could make a big difference to the quality of life for graduates of the future," he said.

WHAT GRADUATES EXPECT TO OWE

Male (average £12,822)

Top five
Queen Mary £19,550
Middlesex £18,008
UCL £17,598
LSE £16,111
Goldsmiths £15,808

Bottom five
Manchester £10,386
Paisley £10,314
Newcastle £10,255
Aston £9,880
Strathclyde £9,722

Female (average £12,262)

Top five
Queen Mary £19,762
UCL £15,826
Middlesex £14,804
Manchester Met £14,716
Sheffield £14,700

Bottom five
Birmingham £10,591
Newcastle £10,461
Paisley £10,335
Strathclyde £9,781
Brighton £7,400

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