Debts accumulated during university years are so high that students are suffering from mental ill health and cannot afford to buy food, according to new research.
Sky-high tuition fees and the rising cost of living have been blamed for “overwhelming” stress levels felt by the majority of students, with one in seven admitting they have been chased by debt collectors as a result of missing rent payments.
Three-quarters of students who receive maintenance loans feel stressed about the amount of debt they accumulate while studying, with over a third (39 per cent) saying they cannot afford their weekly food shop.
Over a quarter of students admitted to missing rent payments, with three in five polled (58 per cent) running out of money completely before their next payment is due.
In spite of social stereotypes, the top three items students said they spend their money on were rent (78 per cent), food (69 per cent) and utility bills (47 per cent), with the average student loan fund running dry by the sixth week of term.
The total student debt owed in the UK is currently estimated at £71bn, with students in England leaving university with the highest average debt in the English-speaking world, a study revealed last year.
Estelle Clarke, advisory board member for the Intergenerational Foundation, said “The dreadful injustice is that every single day, while students are scrimping and saving, punitive monthly compounding interest is being added to their loans, snowballing them into unmanageable debt – and at a time when students can, literally, do nothing about it.
“While students are suffering from lack of money, extortionate interest charges are still being added to their loans. It is exploitation at best.
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