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Friday, January 28, 2005

Student debt set to soar

The consequences of the Labour Party's obsession with top-up tuition fees are starting to haunt it with the impending publication of an authorative report, which predicts the trebling of student debt. The research, published in the National Institute Economic Review, also suggests that disabled students, and students who do not receive help from their family, will be hit more severely.

The study, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, looked at the effect of fees on debt, term-time working and students' satisfaction with university. It found that tuition fees have been passed directly into debt: with average debt rising similarly to tuition fees. In addition, the fees did not increase term-time working, generally, except among those who did not receive financial assistance from their parents, further disadvantaging these students.

Nice as it is to have one's views vindicated this is no comfort for the future of the many young people who will be deterred from fulfilling their potential nor for the future economic prosperity of our Country, which depends on home-grown talent going into higher education and then bringing their training and expertise into the job market.

We are, of course, still awaiting the outcome of the Rees Commission review into the funding of Higher Education in Wales, but both they and the Minister must read this study carefully and find alternative ways of funding Welsh universities, other than student fees.


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