From education to employment

College graduates to pay less debt than their university peers

New research from the Association of Colleges (AoC) has revealed that students studying Higher Education courses at colleges are graduating with £17.5k less debt than their university counterparts.

According to AoC, colleges are delivering HE in a very different way, with a greater emphasis on part-time provision and providing students more scope to keep their costs down while still achieving Foundation, Bachelors and Masters Degree courses at a local level.

The research has found that on average college students graduating in the next few years will expect to owe a total of around £5681, the figure based on students undertaking a three year course. In contrast to students who started at university last year and are likely to owe more than £23,200 by the time they leave.

The study also highlights how a combination of greater opportunities to work part-time while studying, the ability to live at home and reduced travel costs are amongst the key factors in minimising the overall debt levels of HE college students.

Joy Mercer, director of policy (Education) at AoC, said: “Following the recent Browne review on tuition fees and the changes to HE funding set out in the Comprehensive Spending Review, prospective HE students are faced with making significant upfront investments in their future.

“The students now will want to weigh up their different options carefully to see how they can keep debts to a minimum while achieving a high quality qualification.”

This issue requires further scrutiny, and more research is needed in order to ensure that prospective students are able to make the best possible choices about their future.

However, cuts in HE funding will also affect colleges and, like universities, they will be looking at their future fee structures. But, college tuition fees have, on average, been lower than those set by universities.

Adrian Bailey, chair of the Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee, said “HE students want flexibility to be able to work and study at the same time, as well as the choice to study close to their own homes” and colleges are now enabling HE students to do this and minimise the personal debt they incur as a result.

There are currently 168,000 students on HE courses at more than 260 colleges around the country. The range of HE qualifications and training offered by colleges at a local level is vast – from full Bachelors and Masters Degrees to Higher National Diplomas and Professional Vocational Qualifications.

Aastha Gill

Related Articles