Student debt rise slows

July 12, 2002

The average student debt has risen by 4 per cent to £6,228, figures from Barclays reveal.

The bank said its annual survey of more than 1,400 students recorded the lowest increase since the survey began in 1992, indicating that student debt was beginning to stabilise.

It put this down to parents contributing more to support their children through higher education and students saving significantly more before going to university than in previous years.

The National Union of Students refuted the findings, stressing that debt rises were only slowing, not ceasing, and criticised the survey as "oversimplistic".

An NUS spokesman said: "We have thousands of cases of students who are consumed by worry about the amount of debt they are accumulating.

"Many of them don't have an affluent family to subsidise them or bail them out if they get into real difficulty paying their fees or living costs.

"Students might be saving up to begin a degree, but even the amounts earned during gap years and holidays are a pittance compared with the real cost of living."

Barclays said that the increase of 4 per cent in debt levels this year compares with a steep rise of 37 per cent the previous year.

Debbie Shipley, manager of student and graduate banking at Barclays, said that debt levels were flattening out and that students were being more responsible financially by saving more and earning more from part-time and holiday work.

The survey found a 12 per cent increase on the average student loan to £6,100 over the year coinciding with a 12 per cent increase in the maximum amount available through the Student Loans Company.

Parents were contributing an average of £681 a student over and above their required contribution, an increase of 9 per cent.

In addition, students were saving 30 per cent more money before going to university.

According to the survey, the number of students working during term time remained at 39 per cent, although the hours worked shrank from 15 to 13 a week, with average earnings slightly up at £80 a week.

Barclays said that about 8 per cent of students were angry about their level of debt, which is a similar proportion to last year.

However, the proportion who said they were resigned to their debts rose slightly to about 25 per cent.


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