The UK’s largest survey of student finance, published today on, reveals that students who started at university last year can expect to owe over £23,200 by the time they leave and new students should reckon on around £1,500 more than that.

The annual survey by Push, the UK’s leading independent resource for prospective students, has found that student debt now tops £5,600 for each year of study. The inflation-busting increase of 5.4% may in part be down to availability of part-time and temporary jobs during the recession.

The Push Student Debt Survey is the most detailed annual analysis of students’ financial position, involving face-to-face interviews with over 2,000 students at 139 university campuses throughout the UK.

Prospective students receiving their A level results next Thursday will be particularly concerned as proposals being considered by the Government and by Lord Browne’s review into student finance may impose higher fees over the next few years.

The different funding arrangements around the UK are also reflected in the data. In Scotland, which has the most generous funding system, debts are less than half those south of the border. Meanwhile, with an average of £6,411 per year, students have faced the harshest increases in Wales, where opportunities for paid work appear to have dried up.

There is considerable variation between individual universities too. The national average projected debt on graduation for anyone in higher education right now stands at £16,614, but at 9 universities, the figure has already broken the £30,000 barrier. However, at 20 universities, most of which are in Scotland, borrowing is likely to remain under £10,000.

The figures posted today on form part of the website’s detailed profiles of every university in the UK, covering every aspect of student life from teaching standards to the price of beer on each campus.

With university clearing starting next week, features exclusive, insider information on finding the right university and tips to give your application the edge. The website also boasts the Uni Chooser tool, the uniquely powerful search-and-sort facility which enables students to find the university most suited to them.

Johnny Rich, Editor of, commented:

“We are at a crunch point for student debt. Many talented potential students may shy away when they hear a degree will cost £25,000. As the Government and Lord Browne consider what to do about the future of student finance, these figures should give them a lot to chew on.

Meanwhile, for students, it’s never been more important to understand the differences between universities. It’s not just the debts that vary widely – the whole experience students have at different institutions varies too and what they stand to gain from each uni too.”

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