UK students face most debt out of all English-speaking countries

Lili Bidwell 2 May 2016

Recent studies have revealed that British university graduates are, on average, in more debt than students from any other English speaking country.

It is commonly perceived that studying for a degree in America, for example, costs far more than in Britain, however this is not the case. The average amount of debt on leaving university in other English-speaking countries is between £15,000 and £29,000, whilst the UK average is a shocking £44,000 following the rise in tuition fees to £9000 per year.

This stark difference means that for many UK University graduates it is becoming increasingly difficult to get onto the property ladder, start a family and attending graduate schools. Given the current situation, it would make more sense for many students to instead consider pursuing an apprenticeship instead of university.

This, coupled with the abolition of maintenance grants means that some of the poorest students are left with more than £50,000 of debt, which take years and years to pay off. According to Sir Peter Lampl, chair of the Sutton Trust, "these debt levels are by far the highest in the English-speaking world and are more than double average debt levels at universities in the United States, where students study for four-year programmes, rather than three.”

A spokesperson for the BSI has argued that "More people than ever before are now able to benefit from higher education, and the application rate for students from disadvantaged backgrounds is at a record level. As the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has recognised, our student funding system is fair and sustainable. It removes financial barriers for anyone hoping to study, and is backed by the taxpayer, with outstanding debt written off after 30 years. Graduates only pay back on earnings above £21,000 and enjoy a considerable wage premium of £9,500 per year."

In spite of this it seems the debts of UK students are disproportionately large in comparison with those from other English-speaking countries.