Page last updated at 12:41 GMT, Tuesday, 21 April 2009 13:41 UK

More costs and cash for students

Student lecture
First year student spending has increased by 12%

Students are spending more money and receiving more support than ever before, suggests a survey of student finance in England.

The Student Income and Expenditure Survey shows that higher tuition fees have increased first year student spending by 12% in three years.

Students are now completing their first year with an average of £3,500 debt.

Despite debt fears, the study found a sharp decline in the number of students with part-time jobs during term.

Among first year students, the proportion with jobs fell from 58% to 49%.

The National Union of Students highlighted that a third of students are now being influenced by financial factors when choosing where to apply to university.

Student debt

The study, published by England's Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, looked at student finances in 2007-08.

It shows that higher education is becoming more of a financial transaction - both in income and in expenditure. Spending is up by 12% and average income for students has risen by 15%, including fee loans which are paid straight to universities.

Driving this was the introduction of higher tuition fees, which were implemented in the 2006-07 academic year. The accompanying grants, bursaries and loans also pushed up the income of students.

The average income of full-time students is now £10,425.

The level of debt after the first year of an undergraduate course is £3,500, says the survey. For final year students, who began before the higher fee regime, the average debt is £7,800.

The survey found widespread confidence among students that university was a good investment, with 80% expecting to gain from higher earnings after graduation.

Confidence in the value of university had risen among first year students, compared with three years ago.

Report author, Claire Johnson, a principal research fellow at the Institute for Employment, said student income had risen overall, although most of the increase was driven by income from tuition fee loans.

Such loans and grants were "playing a more important role for students", said Ms Johnson, and this could account for the lower reliance on other income, such as from parents or part-time jobs.

"Higher education remains one of the best pathways to a rewarding career, and it is good to see that students recognise it as a good investment for their future, a fact also seen in the record numbers of applications to university," said higher education minister, David Lammy.

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