William Kay: Students learn the hard way when it comes to paying off their debts
Saturday 14 August 2004
Congratulations to all those Scottish hopefuls who passed their Highers this week, and the best of luck to their English, Irish and Welsh counter-parts waiting for the dreaded A-level envelopes to land on the mat next Thursday.
Congratulations to all those Scottish hopefuls who passed their Highers this week, and the best of luck to their English, Irish and Welsh counter-parts waiting for the dreaded A-level envelopes to land on the mat next Thursday. But, if the latest survey from NatWest is anywhere near the mark, the problems are only just beginning for those heading to university.
Sixth formers expect to pay £26,000 for a university education. This year's freshers will probably have to find almost £1,000 a month to cover rent, food, books, beer and cigarettes. That's £7,000 a year for students on ten-week terms, £5,500 for those slackers at Oxbridge on eight-week terms.
Nearly six in 10 of this year's graduates have left university with debts of more than £10,000 and a third believe that it will take them more than a decade to pay it off. But a survey by the Association of Investment Trust Companies shows that on average parents think their children will run up debts of about £8,000, and the would-be students themselves fondly imagine the figure will be as low as £6,000.
We will be publishing a detailed student survival guide nearer the start of term, but meanwhile it is never too early to start budgeting for the cost of going to university. Too many students sleep-walk their way to campus, relying on the myth that "everyone borrows" and the fact that the Student Loan, tied to the rate of inflation, is the best value around.
By no means everyone borrows. About one in seven graduates debt-free. I accept that a lot of those have simply had generous handouts from their families, which many cannot even contemplate. A little ingenuity can go a long way.
There was the student I distantly knew, who brought a shirt for every week of term and took them home again to be washed. (Now you realise why I knew him only distantly).
And, without being a killjoy, you can trim that £1,000 a month if you go easy on beer and cigarettes. It's easy to get into the habit of going down the pub every evening and spending £10 on drinks, even at the student union. That adds up. And no one should need telling about not smoking.
Everyone can make up their own list of money-saving tips. Equally important is to sort out a job to generate income. The best jobs get snapped up first, so it is a good idea to pay a pre-term visit to your uni- versity town to see what is available. Likewise vacation work nearer home.
And it may seem like money down the drain, but I am afraid you should allow some money for insurance. Student life can be highly disorganised, and people who have never lived away from home before can easily make mistakes involving their personal security. There are several specialist student policies on the market. Shop around, and watch out for small print. More Than will make 15 per cent of parents' household insurance available for student children free of charge, which helps. But remember, insurers are not charities: if you make more than the odd claim, you may suddenly find your premiums shooting up or you can even go on a blacklist.
Don't let the scare stories put you off. It's still the greatest fun many people will ever have.
* The Chip and Pin campaign has finally tipped over the abyss into barking mad surrealism. This is the campaign by credit card companies to prepare us for the day when retailers will reject signatures as verification and force us to remember a four-digit Personal Identification Number, or Pin.
This will be read by a chip embedded into the next generation of cards, hence Chip and Pin.
This week the campaign managers published research showing that more than a quarter of card-holders will struggle to remember a Pin, a proportion that could send the credit card industry spiralling into chaos. So they have dreamed up some handy hints.
"Go into a room," we are urged, "on your own." Sound advice, in view of what comes next. "Then say your Pin aloud several times." You couldn't make it up.
It's time to put the brakes on speeding
The London Congestion Charge and tobacco duty have taught us that tax and other measures can influence behaviour. But this week's car-crushing announcement suggests that our knowledge of this complex mechanism is still rudimentary.
The idea that uninsured cars involved in accidents should be destroyed has an animal appeal, particularly if you have lost your no-claims bonus after being rammed by a drunken yobbo. But the idea is fundamentally flawed.
What the rest of us ultimately want is fewer males in their teens and twenties driving irresponsibly. However, the desire of these guys to drive fast is very powerful, to impress women or their mates, or just for the hell of it. So powerful is this impulse that they will do anything to express it.
The law insists they must be insured, but insurers don't want their business except at deterrent premiums that they can't afford. So they don't insure. I predict that crushing their cars will not stop the problem. They will say to themselves that if their car is going to be crushed they may as well steal it, an argument that becomes more alluring after a few lagers. Net result: more car thefts, more crashes, and greater unhappiness.
I do not believe the problem will be solved until it can be taken out of hands of both drivers and insurers, by installing unremovable devices which limit speed.
If we are all forced to drive at less than 50 mph it will be a small price - and we will save millions of litres of fuel. a year.
Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown
Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search
Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift
Company reveals $542m investment in start-up building 'a rocket ship for the mind'
- 1 Jack the Ripper: Scientist who claims to have identified notorious killer has 'made serious DNA error'
- 2 Banksy arrest hoax: Internet duped by fake online report claiming artist's identity has been revealed
- 3 Former East 17 frontman Brian Harvey turns up at Downing Street and 'demands to speak to Prime Minister'
- 4 Kentucky gang rape: 15-year-old boy left in critical condition after sexual attack by group at party
- 5 Paralysed man Darek Fidyka walks again after treatment by British doctors on brink of 'cure'
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
London bus driver 'kicks gay couple off for kissing'
Lord Freud: Tory welfare minister apologises after saying disabled people are 'not worth’ the minimum wage
Lord Freud hangs on as MPs of all parties 'call for his head' over disability comments
iJobs Money & Business
£23000 per annum + pension and 22 days holiday: Ashdown Group: An established ...
£27000 per annum + pension, 22 days holiday: Ashdown Group: An established ind...
£23000 - £26000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...
£25 - 30k: Guru Careers: A Corporate Actions Administrator / Operations Admini...
Day In a Page
This 17th century beauty is full of rustic cosiness, while the detached home office means you can also run a business
This five-bedroom red-brick beauty overlooks the village green and sits in just under two acres of land
Four exclusive apartments in a Grade II-listed former medical school with 2,275 sq ft of living space and 18ft ceilings
A five-bedroom terraced house on the popular Peterborough Estate, ideally located for both Eel Brook Common and South Park
A state-of-the-art farm-building conversion on the former Cliveden Estate, with 11,420sq ft of internal space, cinema and wine cellar
A three-bedroom, 15th-century cottage with original features in the picturesque village of Sissinghurst
A six-bedroom terraced house with large south-facing roof terrace, cinema room and wine cellar
A new seven-bedroom home built in Queen Anne-style with swimming pool and parkland views in Mortimer
A listed, four-bedroom farmhouse in the rural hamlet of Rushall with detached barn, four acres of gardens and paddocks
A first-floor flat with two bedrooms, a spacious reception room and communal grounds in a leafy part of London
A three-bedroom flat with a spacious rootop terrace and balcony, accessed from a private gated courtyard
A Grade II-listed pile with six bedrooms, stables and 39 acres of grounds in Standlake
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village
A one-bedroom, luxury apartment with private gym and concierge service in Moorgate
A four-bedroom house in Hermitage Gardens with three reception rooms and landscaped gardens
A seven-bedroom Grade II-listed property with a separate self-contained apartment
A five-bedroom Victorian house with three reception rooms and galleried landing, £695,000
A six-bedroom farmhouse with five acres of land in a former cloth-making village