73% of today's students will still be paying off their tuition fees in their 50s

Report warns of sharp rise in debt levels lasting until middle age and calls for review of education funding

Education Editor

Three out of four of today’s students will reach their 50s still owing debts from university of around £30,000, according to a major study published today.

The study, carried out by the Institute for Fiscal Studies for education charity the Sutton trust, reveals that today’s students leave university with an average debt of £44,000 - almost double those of young people who left before the new fees of up to £9,000 a year came into force.

It says that nearly three-quarters (73 per cent) will fail to clear their debts, and may only have them written off 30 years after graduating, by which time they could be in their mid-50s.

By the time the debt is written off, they are likely to have had to repay £35,446 on average - at a time when they are marrying, setting up home and starting a family.

Only five per cent will repay their debts by the time they are 40, compared with around half of all graduates under the old system.

Claire Crawford, of the IFS and the University of Warwick and a co-author of the report, said: “The new HE finance system will leave graduates with much more debt than before."

However, she added: “Graduates who do less well in the labour market will actually end up paying back less than before, while middle and high earners will pay back much more.” 

Students do not have to start repaying their loans until they earn £21,000 a year, as opposed to £15,000 under the old system.

The report cites the instance of a typical teacher on the average wage for the profession and in continuous employment, who will still owe around £37,000 at the age of 40 and will be expected to repay £1,700 to £2,500 a year throughout their 40s and early fifties “at a time when their children are still at school and family and mortgage costs are at their most pressing”.

“Yet, even with this extra charge on middle earners, there is an increasing likelihood that the Government will end up failing to recoup most of its loans.”

Toni Pearce, president of the National Union of Students, said; “Forcing debt on to students as a way of funding universities is an experiment that has failed our country.”

Today’s report comes a week after Sir David Bell, vice-chancellor of Reading University and a former permanent secretary at the Department for Education, said a second “Browne-style” inquiry into student finance was now necessary and was likely to be set up after the 2015 general election. Lord Browne chaired the inquiry which led to the introduction of the £9,000-a-year fees.

It also comes just after the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills admitted that 45 per cent of student debts were unlikely to be repaid, according to estimates.

“It seems middle income earners pay back a lot more but the Exchequer gains little in return,” said Conor Ryan, director of research at the Sutton Trust, which campaigns for equal access for all students to universities. 

“We believe that the Government needs to look again at fees, loans and teaching grants to get a fairer balance.”

Meanwhile, four out of 10 students who get the lowest grades at A-level - three Es - still end up going to university, according to a new study by the Higher Education Funding Council for England, also published today.

The figures show this rises to 60 per cent when only those who take “facilitating subjects” - i.e A-levels ;in subjects like  English, maths and science which are more likely to gain a place at a top university - are considered.

The survey also reveals that the number of language students at university is still in serious decline - with a 22 per cent drop in places awarded between 2010/11 and 2012/13.

Sport
footballLIVE City face Stoke, while Warnock returns to Palace dugout
Arts and Entertainment
books
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
gadgets + techSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind the scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
News
i100
News
The slice of Prince Charles and Princess Diana's wedding cake and the original box from 29 July 1981
newsPiece of Charles and Diana's wedding cake sold at auction in US
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Junior VB.NET Application Developer (ASP.NET, SQL, Graduate)

£28000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior VB.NET ...

Financial Technical Consultant (C++, C#, Finance, MSc, PhD)

£50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Financial Technical Consultant (C++, C#, F...

Year 3 Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: Year 3 Teacher Required We are curr...

Year 5 Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: Year 5 Primary Teaching positionRands...

Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone