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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 August 2006, 08:12 GMT 09:12 UK
Student debt 'averages 13,252'
Student Finance web site
The new changes are spelt out in the Student Finance Direct web site
Graduates leaving university this year had average debts of 13,252, a 5% increase on 2005, a survey has said.

The figures were drawn from a survey of graduates, current students and sixth formers by the NatWest bank.

Although the rise in graduate debt was slower than in previous years, 62% of graduates still left university owing more than 10,000 apiece.

However, sixth-formers heading for college this year expect to leave their courses with debts of nearly 15,000.

That was 1,099 more than the level of student debt expected by sixth formers last year.

New charges

The predictions of higher financial burden when leaving college may reflect the complicated changes to the system of university fees that are coming into effect this year, particularly in England.

Full-time students there will now accumulate tuition charges of up to 3,000 a year, on top of any student loans or other borrowings they may take out while studying.

However, they will not have to repay these higher fees upfront - but only when they are earning at least 15,000 a year after graduation.

The higher charges will also be partly offset for students from poor families by the re-introduction of limited grants.

But students from middle income families, who may not be eligible for the grants or college bursaries, could easily run up a debt of more than 22,000 if - over a three-year course - they took out the maximum student loan of 13,200 plus 9,000 in tuition fees.

Part-time jobs

It is probably for this reason that the NatWest survey reveals that 87% of this autumn's new students think they may well have to take on a part-time job to supplement their income while studying.

That is nearly twice as many as the number of current students who work part-time during their course.

Mark Worthington, head of student and graduate banking for NatWest, said: "New students are clearly much more clued up about the financial realities of university than in previous years."

Find out how one sixth former will finance her degree

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