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Top-up fees send student debt soaring

August 15, 2006 4:04 PM

Students starting university this year will pay record bills for their degrees, figures revealed yesterday. Undergraduates now expect to pay an average of £33,152 to fund a three-year degree course, a 17 per cent increase on last year, according to the latest Nat West Student Money Matters survey. These costs will leave them with average debts of £14,779 by the time they complete their education. Most of the rise is due to the introduction of top-up fees, which allow universities to charge up to £3,000 a year.

Sarah Teather, Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson said "These figures reveal the damaging effect of top-up fees. The prospect of incurring a mountain of debt is deterring students from disadvantaged backgrounds from further education. The Government's flawed policy of top-up fees has resulted in school-leavers more concerned about how much attending university will cost them than how much it will benefit them. Today's twenty-somethings face serious financial problems because of student debt that their parents never encountered. This generation faces an unprecedented burden of debt which is going to affect their ability to buy homes, start families and save for old age."