New graduates face £30,000 debt, survey finds
New graduates can expect to face an average debt of more than £30,000 after leaving university, according to a survey.
The Class of 2015 - among the first students to pay the new £9,000-a-year university tuition fees in Britain - are looking at a sharp rise from the averages of £20,400 in 2014, £20,300 in 2013 and £19,400 in 2012.
Fees in the north remain significantly lower although will rise close to £4,000 a year from 2016. Hundreds of students from Northern Ireland pay higher fees each year at institutions elsewhere in the UK.
The UK Graduate Careers Survey 2015 also found that new graduates expect to earn £23,700 - a £700 rise in the salaries they expected in 2014 and the largest annual rise for seven years.
More than one in six of the 18,412 final year students from 30 UK universities who took part in face-to-face interviews believed they will be earning at least £100,000 by age 30.
Some 26 per cent said they expected to start a graduate job after university.
Doing work experience and making early applications seemed to have paid off as 37 per cent of the Class of 2015 had got a definite graduate job offer by Easter in their final year. These came from either an employer they had done work experience with or through the job applications they had made during their final year at university, according to the survey.
Martin Birchall, managing director of High Fliers Research who carried out the survey, said: "So although the Class of 2015 face the highest-ever graduation debts, an unprecedented number have already secured a graduate job offer before leaving university and the proportion who are uncertain about their future is at its lowest level for seventeen years."
He described them as "the most careers-orientated, motivated and ambitious of their generation" as 48% of finalists began researching their career options by the end of their first year at university. This is an increase on the 30 per cent of the new graduates in 2010 who had begun job hunting during the first year of their degree.
A record 64 per cent of students made applications to graduate employers by March in their final year, up from 46 per cent 10 years ago.
On average, finalists made 7.4 applications each to graduate employers and together made an estimated 474,000 job applications to employers.
Mr Birchall said: "By researching their employment options earlier than ever and completing an average of six months' work experience during their studies, they have prepared more thoroughly for the graduate job market than any other cohort in the last 20 years."