Graduates start work with growing debts

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Graduates are starting their working lives with increasingly bigger debts, according to research published today.

Six months after leaving university, last year's graduates owed an average of pounds 2,930 - a rise of 31 per cent on the average pounds 2,236 debt in 1994, the survey, commissioned by Barclays Bank, reveals.

Those successfully pursuing their chosen careers were willing to get deeper into debt. Graduates on the first rung of the career ladder owed an average pounds 3,564 compared with unemployed graduates, who had pounds 2,374 to pay back.

The survey, based on 961 graduates nationwide, also found that men tended to owe over pounds 1,000 more than women.

The average graduate debt for men was pounds 3,476, compared with pounds 2,414 for women - explained by more men entering full-time jobs on higher pay.

The survey also found some regional variation, with thrifty graduates from Wales and Northern England owing the least - pounds 2,600 and pounds 2,586.

Graduates from the South West owed the most - pounds 3,280 - because they were successful in entering chosen careers and more willing to incur debt.

Attitudes towards student loans and being in the red have also changed. A total 64 per cent of last year's graduates were resigned to debt, or not bothered by it, compared to 50 per cent who were unconcerned in 1993.