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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 August, 2004, 08:19 GMT 09:19 UK
Glamorgan tops student debt table
Students (generic)
Johnny Rich says accommodation is the single biggest expense
The level of student debt in Wales varies dramatically from university to university, according to a new guide.

Students at the University of Glamorgan on average borrow 4,568 a year, the highest level in Wales.

Those in Swansea, who also enjoy the lowest beer prices, only go into the red by 1,523 each year.

Johnny Rich, editor of The Push Guide to Money, said the figures reflect the availability of university accommodation and part-time jobs.

Eighty-four-percent of students have part-time jobs either in term or during the holidays so it's quite significant whether there are jobs available
Johnny Rich

According to the guide the University of Glamorgan also has the highest drop-out rate in Wales with 23% of students failing to complete their courses.

But the University of Glamorgan disputes this. It quotes the Times Higher Education Supplement which said students at Glamorgan had an 86% completion rate and a graduate employment rate of over 95%.

It says the level of debt is understandable as its local catchment area includes some of the poorest areas of the UK.

But it says it has some of the cheapest university and private accommodation in the UK.

Figures released on Wednesday show that, on average, students in Wales borrow 3,137 a year, 386 less than those in England.

Mr Rich said: "Nine times out of 10, student debt comes down to accommodation.

"It's the single biggest cost that students face.

"If accommodation is relatively cheap, as is the case in Wales, then students tend to be less in debt.

Beer prices

"The reason that debts for Glamorgan are so high is only 7% of students are in university accommodation there.

"If you are living away from the campus then you are going to have extra travel costs.

"Also you'll probably have to buy things like your own bedding, kitchen equipment and so on that you might not have to buy in university accommodation."

He said the availability of part-time work was also an important factor.

"Eighty-four-percent of students have part-time jobs either in term or during the holidays so it's quite significant whether there are jobs available," added Mr Rich.

According to the guide, students in Wales also enjoy cheaper beer prices than in England.

The University offers some of the cheapest university-owned accommodation in the UK
University of Glamorgan

The average price for a pint at student union bars and local pubs popular with students is 1.67 for all Welsh universities.

Swansea is the cheapest with an average of 1.49 while Bangor is the most expensive at 1.89

Mr Rich said: "The beer prices are indicative that Swansea has quite good student services there - students generally have access to relatively cheap accommodation, cheap beer and so on."

A spokesman for the University of Glamorgan said some of the figures in the Push Guide were contradictory.

Conflicting results

"There are a number of guides which are published throughout the year produced via information taken from a great number of sources," he said.

"These often produce conflicting results.

"The university has a local catchment area which includes some of the poorest areas of the UK.

"Therefore, it is not surprising that many of our students do not have the financial family support afforded to those from more affluent areas and, instead, have to take the option of funding their studies via loans.

"However, given these circumstances, it is of significant benefit that the university offers some of the cheapest university-owned accommodation in the UK - rated 17th cheapest according to an NUS survey reported in the Guardian (June 2004).

"Those living off-campus also benefit from the 9th lowest external rent in the UK according to the current Push Guide website."

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