Medics in debt up to £56K

January 14, 2005

Tom Burden, a third-year medical student at Peninsula Medical School, expects to be in debt by an intimidating £51,000 by the time he finishes his degree, and new figures suggest that his is not an isolated case.

A survey published by the British Medical Association last week reveals that the average fifth-year medical student owes almost £20,000 - up 16 per cent on last year. Many owe more than £30,000. Mr Burden, who took a degree in sport and exercise sciences before he moved into medicine, explained: "I have a mortgage-worth of debt before even buying a house."

He said that many mature students at Peninsula had already paid for one degree and were in a similar financial position. "I can tell you of four in the same boat on my corridor alone ," he said.

Mr Burden supports himself financially with a bank loan and some part-time work as a nursing auxiliary. But he stressed that medical students found it harder than most to slot paid work into their timetable. "If you manage one shift a week alongside your work, you are doing well," he said.

Mr Burden said that he had no regrets about choosing to study medicine. But he added: "£51,000 is a lot of debt with which to start a professional life."

Katie Lazenby, a final-year student at University College London Medical School who completed a degree in pharmacy before deciding to study medicine, is in similar financial difficulty. She explained: "I am on my eighth student loan. I will owe between £35,000 and £36,000 when I graduate."

More than 1,300 students completed the BMA's finance survey, and almost all had some level of debt. The average debt for students from all years was Pounds 13,301. The most owed was £56,000.

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