Graduate debt still a problem for workforce

Graduates entering the jobs market this year are expected to owe an average
of £12,500, according to research.

Graduate debt is expected to rise by 13 per cent this year, although this
represents a slowdown compared to the 17 per cent increase in 2001, and the
huge leap of 44 per cent in 2000.

The study by Barclays shows that debt continues to be a way of life for
students, but the slowdown is a welcome surprise.

"The combination of debt levels falling below the expected £12,000 [in
2002] and increases in amounts owed declining year-on-year, suggests that
finally the brakes are being squeezed on student debt," said Debbie
Shipley, head of student and graduate banking at Barclays.

The research looked at the finances of almost 2,500 graduates and found just
12 per cent were leaving education debt free, down from 15 per cent in 2001.

It also showed that today’s students can be practical when borrowing money,
with 96 per cent choosing the cheapest source – the Student Loan Company.

The average debt to banks declined slightly from £2,187 in 2001, to £2,148,
with the amount owed on credit cards rising from £760 to £903.

Graduate debt levels

Year                 Mean debt (£)              Year-on-year increase 

1999                5,286                           +17
per cent
2000                6,507                           +23
per cent
2001                9,373                           +44
per cent
2002                10,997                         +17 per cent

2003                12,500                         +13 per

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