Is it worth me going to university? That’s what sixth-formers asked when I went back to my old school seven weeks ago. Many said they were calculating career against student debt.
The stark reality for uni students was laid out this week in research about the earnings and debt of recent graduates in England. The latest class earn 12 per cent less than their counterparts did in 2008, owe 60 per cent more in debt, with each cohort of grads progressively poorer than the one before. And this is the group who made it through uni before the tripling of fees to £9,000 a year. (Hat-tip to FT reporter Sarah O’Connor for all this analysis.) If you’re a baby boomer, these young workers are meant to be funding your retirement.
Young people without degrees are having a tougher time: the number not in education or employment sits stubbornly above a million.
I urge any recent(ish) graduates to stay in touch with the Student Loans Company. I lost contact for eight years – forgot to update my address – and they carried on charging me for three years after I had finished paying off my debt. “I think you should sit down,” Lynn from their Glasgow call centre told me when I rang one day. “I have some good news for you…” She is my all-time favourite call handler.
The speedy refund will go towards a house deposit. But how many other people have also overpaid? And how many unscrupulous organisations take much worse liberties with our financial inattention?
Thank you for the huge response to Ask the Prime Minister. Since writing that David Cameron has agreed to answer questions from i readers, we have received many hundreds of suggestions (42 of them from reader Matthew Guntrip). I’ve only had to veto a couple because of lavish Anglo -Saxon. Please keep them coming: email your question for the PM to firstname.lastname@example.org by 7pm Monday. The best go to Downing Street.