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Debt in the First Degree: £9k fee graduates dissatisfied with degrees

Thursday 13-08-2015 - 01:00

NUS research shows first cohort of graduates under the £9k fees system are dissatisfied with their university degree.

NUS has launched new research revealing that over half of full-time students graduating under the post-2012 fees and loans system believe their degree was not worth the cost of their tuition fees.

Shockingly, one in 20 graduates said if they could go back, they would not have gone to university, citing the cost of study and level of debt as the main reasons.

The report, 'Debt in the First Degree', examines the attitudes and behaviours of the first £9,000 fee-paying graduates.

It also revealed:

  • 77 per cent of graduates were worried or very worried about their student debt
  • 43 per cent of graduates believe their standard of living would be affected by the cost of repaying their student loan
  • Only 45 per cent of graduates expect to fully repay their student loan debt
  • Of the 56 per cent of graduates who believed that their degree was not worth the cost of their tuition fees, 17 per cent believed their degree was worth considerably less than they paid
  • A third of Black and minority ethnic (BME) graduates were more concerned about the interest of student loans and much more likely to want to repay them as soon as possible, believing the student loan debt to be as bad as other forms of debt such as bank loans or credit cards

Cost of study had some impact on the choice of institution (45 per cent) and some impact on where graduates chose to live (60 per cent). A considerable number of those surveyed said they would consider changing their subject (28 per cent) or their university (23 per cent).

In a separate poll carried out by NUS, 91 per cent of 16-18 year olds said they were concerned about the financial implications of going to university.

Sorana Vieru, NUS Vice President (Higher Education), said: ‘Graduates are rightfully worried about their future, not only in terms of finding a graduate job, but also in how their finances will be affected by larger debts that the majority will be repaying until they are in their 50s.

‘These results show how the myth of consumer empowerment is being questioned by graduates who, on reflection, are able to see that the quality of the student experience is not linked to an increase in tuition fees.

‘We urge government to take note of the views of students and the real concerns they have about student debt, particularly those from widening participation backgrounds. Cuts to maintenance grants in particular could seriously harm access, as our evidence suggests that students from poorer backgrounds may think again about university if they have to incur higher debts.’

Read the ‘Debt in the First Degree’ report here.

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