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HE case studies Tuesday, 21 January, 2003, 17:22 GMT
University 'worthwhile' despite debt
campus
Average spending on food was 28 a week.
Students across the UK find university a worthwhile experience, even though they have little money and expect to graduate with debts of almost 9,000 - before any top-up fees.

The majority (72%) say that if their first choice of university had demanded a top-up fee they would have reconsidered their choice.

On average, students spend 19.10 a week on alcoholic drinks - although a quarter say they never buy alcohol.

These are among the latest findings from an ongoing study of student living commissioned by student accommodation provider Unite.

Good value

Researchers from Mori carried interviewed with 1,086 full-time undergraduate and postgraduate students at 21 old and new universities in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland last October and November.

More than nine in 10 agreed that going to university was a worthwhile experience.

Three fifths believe their current course is good value for money - but those in their third or subsequent year are "significantly more dissatisfied", the study reports.

On average, the three-quarters of students who spend money on alcohol are spending 25 a week.

Students typically spend 28.20 a week on food.

Rising debt

The average amount students say they currently owe continues to rise and is now 4,602.

The average amount they expect to owe when they graduate also continues to rise and is now 8,816.

Only one student in eight believes the government listens to their views.

Most (72%) believe that if their first choice of university had demanded a top-up fee they would have reconsidered their choice "to some extent".

The preferred method for increasing university funding is to make wealthier families pay higher tuition fees.

Voting intentions at the next election were equally split between Labour and the Liberal Democrats, with the Conservatives trailing behind.

Wider reach

Despite an official policy of wider participation, the latest research does not suggest any increase in the proportion of students from working class backgrounds.

The key area of concern for those who are is that if there were to be more people with degrees - as the government intends - it would be harder for them to get a job.

The same group are most likely to be doing paid work while at university and to say that it has a negative impact on their studies.

Overall, two-fifths of students are in paid employment during term time - typically in shop or bar work, although a growing number of those from ethnic minority backgrounds especially are in call centres.

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The BBC's Carolyn Quinn
"The issue has split the cabinet"
See also:

19 Jan 03 | Politics
17 Jan 03 | Education
14 Jan 03 | Education
17 Jan 03 | Education
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