Claims UCS hit by students' debts

SPIRALLING student debt could shrink the number of applications for places at University Campus Suffolk (UCS), it was claimed today.

SPIRALLING student debt could shrink the number of applications for places at University Campus Suffolk (UCS), it was claimed today.

Figures released by the Student Loans Company reveal that £18billion is owed nationally, with students taking out bigger loans than ever before as £3,000-a-year top-up tuition fees push up the cost of completing a degree.

Andrew Cann, deputy leader of Suffolk County Council's Liberal Democrats, said this burden meant more and more young people were being put off from pursuing higher education - at the worst possible time for UCS, which opens in September.

He said: “This news should be of grave concern to everyone locally, not just students and their parents.

“Young graduates are getting seriously into debt, which then affects the rest of their lives.

“The government, most of whom enjoyed free higher education, seem to be happy to pull up the ladder of opportunity for young people who might be put off by the prospect of such debts.

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“At this time of year, when many young people in Suffolk and all across the country might be considering applying for a place at UCS, it really concerns me that they face leaving their time here with serious debts.”

However, UCS head of marketing, Polly Bridgman, denied the figures had made a negative impact on admissions.

She said: “If you look at UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service) figures, they are showing a five per cent increase in applications.

“I don't think the cost of tuition fees has had the effect people thought it would.

“Perhaps more people are studying closer to home to cut down on their living expenses.”

Students borrowed more than £3billion during the last financial year - up from £941million in 1997. The average student debt now stands at £12,000.

Higher education minister Bill Rammell said: “Student loans are the safest and most effective way of financing education, and the general picture is that students are borrowing within the amount to which they are entitled, not beyond their means.”

Do you think students are burdened with too much debt? Or do you think it is right they pair their own way? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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