View guides

Student Loan Debt Surpasses £100bn

Posted by Richard Ward in , ,

Image courtesy of Flickr, Creative Commons

Student loan debt in the UK has grown to more than £100bn for the first time.

Outstanding loans increased by 16.6% to £100.5bn at the end of March, up from the £86.2bn recorded at the same point in time the previous year.

Of the total debt recorded, £89.3bn was associated to loans taken by English students.

Expectations are that the overall level of debt will increase further, as more money is lent out each year, with Sorana Vierue, the vice-president for higher education at the National Union of Students calling the levels "eye-watering".

Prior to increased fees being levied by universities in 2012, when institutions in England were allowed to charge up to £9,000 a year, student debt was less than half its current level, at £45.9bn.

Some are predicting student loan debt to double to £200bn within the next six years, making it economically significant, eclipsing credit card debt currently estimated at £68bn.

Despite yearly tuition fee increases being of concern to prospective students, the total outstanding debt is less meaningful to individuals and will be of greater concern to taxpayers and the government.

Commenting on the current loans system, a spokesperson for the Department for Education said: "Our student finance system removes upfront financial barriers for anyone hoping to study, and students only pay back what they can afford based on their income."

With the average student in England graduating with £32,220 in debt, there are however outstanding questions as to the long-term impact this will have on graduates purchasing power or the ability to contribute to pensions.