Good luck with your exams!
If you are in Years 11, 12 or 13, you should now be putting thoughts of your US college applications to one side and revising hard for your exams. Regardless of whether you are taking your GCSE, AS, A2 or IB exams, these are probably the most important exams you will ever take, as they will act as the gateway to whatever comes afterwards. Even students in Year 13 who have accepted unconditional offers from US colleges will still be expected to achieve A2 grades roughly in line with those predicted, so it is important to keep working!
Sutton Trust Report: At Debt’s Door
During the exam season this newsletter tends to focus on more general topics about higher education rather than specific aspects of the application process. This month we are highlighting a report published on 28 April 2016 by the Sutton Trust, showing that “English university graduates face higher debts on graduation than their American counterparts, and owe more than those in Canada, Australia and New Zealand.”
Drawing on the most recent published data from respective countries, the report’s author, Dr Philip Kirby, shows that while the typical US graduate faces debts ranging from about £20,500 for students studying at public or private non-profit universities to £29,000 at private for-profit universities, their English counterparts, graduating from last year under the new £9,000 fees regime, owe an average of over £44,000. Partly due to generous scholarships, the average graduate of private non-profit US universities, which include the Ivy League, finishes with £23,000 of debt despite the typical course lasting four years compared to three in England.*
Sir Peter Lampl, chairman of the Sutton Trust and Education Endowment Foundation commented: “The massive increase in tuition fees from just over £3,000 to £9,000 per annum and the abolition of the maintenance grant results in the poorest English university graduates facing debts on graduation of over £50,000 with interest rates on the debt compounding at up to 3% over inflation. These debt levels are by far the highest in the English speaking world and are more than double average debt levels at universities in the United States, where students study for four year programmes, rather than three. They impact on the ability of graduates to go to graduate schools, to afford a mortgage, the timing of having children and other major life decisions.”
The report also highlights the growing complexity in arrangements in the UK nations, with different fee levels in Scotland compared with the rest of the UK, and grants in Wales that enable Welsh students to take up places at English universities for less than £4,000 a year rather than up to £9,000.
The report’s key findings are:
- The typical English student faces debts of over £44,000 at graduation. Even compared with graduates of US private for-profit universities (who graduate with about £29,000 of debt), estimates suggest that English students fare worst.
- However, the vast majority of English students’ study-related debt is held by the state, which has relatively clear repayment conditions compared to other Anglophone countries. In the US, only a minority of students are repaying under income contingent arrangements.
- Despite this, the fact that English students now face some of the highest tuition fees in the world, and the highest average debts at graduation, should be cause for concern, not least because the number of part-time and mature students enrolling at UK institutions across recent years has dropped precipitously.
- While full-time undergraduate university enrolment has recovered since the imposition of £9,000 fees in 2012, university needs to remain a viable option for everyone, especially those from poorer backgrounds, who are disproportionately underrepresented across the UK professional landscape.
You may download the full report from the Sutton Trust website.
* Harvard’s generous Financial Aid Initiative means that UK students at Harvard College whose family income is US$65,000 (around £45,000) per year or less will almost certainly pay nothing towards their Harvard education. The College will pay for all tuition, accommodation, food and other expenses including a travel allowance and book allowance. Because the financial aid does not include loans, students do not have to pay the College back and 75% graduate debt-free. Some students choose to take out their own loans to purchase items such as computer equipment, and for the 25% that do borrow, the average debt on graduation is US$16,700 (around £11,600), less than half the US average.
Sutton Trust US Programme
If you are currently in Year 11, go to a state school, and are likely to earn eight or more As or A*s in your GCSEs this summer, then you should certainly consider applying for this excellent programme that will help you prepare for applying to US colleges. It is centred on a one-week summer school at a leading US university with introductory events and application support in the UK before and after. Better still, it’s free! Applications open each November and close towards the end of January.
If you would like to be informed when applications open for the 2017 programme (to enrol at university in 2018), please complete the Sutton Trust’s short survey.