Top-up fees could lead to 100% rise in graduate debts

Changes in funding for higher education could mean that students will leave university with debts up to 100% higher than in 2002, Barclays says.

Education secretary Charles Clarke recently announced that students could be saddled with debts of over £21,000 following the introduction of top-up fees.

The Barclays graduate survey has shown that graduate debt has risen dramatically in recent years. While in 2000, debts stood at just £5,000, by 2001 they had risen to £10,000 and to £12,000 for those graduating last year. The announcement that debts could rise to as much as £21,000 means a substantial increase in the levels of debt that UK graduates have to manage on leaving university.

Debbie Shipley, head of student and graduate banking at Barclays says: “While salaries have risen over recent years, the tough economic climate means graduate debt is likely to remain at £15,000 on average for the next few years. It could be years before many graduates are able to pay off debts accumulated during their university days and the knock-on effect as they try to get onto the housing ladder or start to save for their own futures should not be underestimated.

“We recognise the financial difficulties faced by graduates so our specially trained staff are on hand to give advice and support and our flexible graduate package allows them to choose what&#39s best for them. However, there is good news for graduates with average salaries higher than those who didn&#39t go to university.”