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Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Why going to university no longer justifies racking up student debt

The value of outstanding student debt has tripled to £140bn since the tuition fee cap increased to £9,000 as part of David Cameron’s university reforms eight years ago. Of the graduates currently in full-time employment, only 25pc will repay their loan in full.

‘I’m up against overqualified candidate who have lost their jobs’

When 23-year-old Caitlin Yeung graduated with a sociology degree from the University of Roehampton last year she was pitted against an influx of people made redundant by the pandemic. 

“I was desperately looking for a job in London to pay my rent, but found myself competing with overqualified candidates applying for graduate positions because they lost their jobs,” said Ms Yeung. 

Saddled with £60,000 in student debt, she moved back home to live with her mother in Liverpool and began claiming Universal Credit. 

The graduate eventually found employment through the Government’s Kick Start scheme, which offers paid six-month placements to 16 to 24-year-olds claiming universal credit. After her six-month placement Ms Yeung’s employer offered her a full-time role as a marketing assistant. 

The Intergenerational Foundation said: “We have long argued against the marketisation of higher education and continue to believe that education should be a public good, paid for via our already existing progressive tax system, with much greater government investment made in alternative avenues to employment.”

Tuition fees are now as high as £9,250 a year, with most institutions charging the maximum. A typical graduate will leave university with around £50,000 in debt according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, another think tank.

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