Students could leave university with average debts of more than £50,000 once higher tuition fees come into force, a new study finds.
Students who begin university in 2012, the year that higher tuition fees are implemented, could leave with debts of £53,400 on average.
The debt figure takes into account the amounts students owe in fees, bank accounts and credit cards as well as money owed to parents, universities and other debts.
Student debts are already rising, and are set to hit £26,100 for those starting university next month. But the tuition fees increase next year will see fees double, the study found. For students in England, where average fees are set to reach £8,630, graduates should expect to finish with debts of £59,100 on average.
Students in Scotland, where there are no fees for Scottish students and much lower fees for English students, face lower debts, bringing down the overall average.
The Government has failed to explain how debts of over £50,000 will not cripple graduates financially. Johnny Rich, editor of Push
The Government voted to allow universities to charge up to £9,000 tuition fees annually last year, sparking student protests.
The annual Push Student Debt survey is produced by independent universities guide push.co.uk. The team questioned over 2,800 students at 115 UK university campuses over their debts.
Johnny Rich, editor of Push, said: “This is the first real glimpse we’ve had of what we should expect when the new fees hit students.
“The Government has failed to explain how debts of over £50,000 will not cripple graduates financially, particularly given that students will need to find a quarter of that money from outside the support of the official loans system.”
Read more on tuition fees: which universities are charging the most?
The survey also showed that costs at different universities can vary dramatically.
National Union of Students (NUS) President Liam Burns said: “The confusing shambles the Government have imposed on students and universities has seen independent debt projections more than double in just one year.
“The fact that the Government thinks it’s OK to hang an amount of debt equivalent to a small mortgage over someone’s head while they study is one thing, but leaving young people reliant on commercial credit just to stay in education is scandalous.”
A spokesman for the Department for Business Innovation and Skills said: “No-one should be put off going to university for financial reasons. The majority of students will not pay £9,000 for their tuition and no first time undergraduate will have to pay up-front costs.
“There is also a more generous package of financial support available, including higher living cost grants, fee waivers and scholarships. Graduates will make lower monthly repayments than they do now.”