Mounting student debts in the United Kingdom

In 2015 approximately half a million new undergraduates embarked on student life at universities across the UK, but thousands more British students also settled into their studies at universities across mainland Europe.[1]

As the United Kingdom becomes the most expensive place to study in Europe, thousands of students are opting for a free degree outside the UK – whether it’s in Denmark or Bulgaria. British Council research published in 2015 declared that up to a third of British students are now considering overseas study, which is higher than it has ever been. If you’re an EU citizen you can receive a free university education – crucially with your lectures taught in English – in around half of all European countries. So it is hardly surprising that more and more British youngsters are seriously considering this as an alternative to studying in the UK. Testament to the clear rise in levels of interest in courses across Europe UCAS has announced it would consider adding European universities to admissions forms.

A third of English 18-year olds now apply to university, a proportion that has recovered from the dip that followed the introduction of the new fee regime in 2012. Today’s 16 to 18 year olds are beginning to worry about debt; a ComRes opinion survey commissioned by the Sutton Trust reports that 78% of young people were concerned as potential students about the cost of living and 58% by having to repay student loans.

With tuition fees of up to £9,000 per year, many students feel as if they can no longer afford further education if they remain in the UK. A report commissioned by the Sutton Trust, in 2014, found that on average students in the UK will graduate with a debt of £44,000. This is a staggeringly large amount of money, especially for a recent graduate who may not have secured themselves a job. College education in the US is often viewed as being extremely expensive, however only 70% of US students graduate with debt while in Britain all students graduate with debt almost twice the US level.[2]

[1] http://www.theguardian.com/education/2015/oct/03/british-university-students-who-study-abroad-europe

[2] http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/aug/09/student-debt-kick-in-teeth-for-poor-families

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