STUDENTS starting their first year at Huddersfield University are already worrying about the amount of debt they will have when they finish their studies.
That is the claim of Colne Valley councillor Nicola Turner, who talked to first years arriving at the university’s Queensgate campus during Freshers’ Week.
She added: “The whole issue of university education and student debt is important and this is the best time to catch students to find out their views.
“Students accept that they will be in debt, but it does concern them and they have it hanging over them.
“We are almost saying to these kids that debt is the way you do it, but know debt is hard to get out of.
“We appear to have moved away from the traditional belief that the country as a whole should invest in its future by offering an education to our brightest children.
“It is difficult to understand the logic of foisting an enormous debt burden on the very people who should be the country’s wealth creators in future.”
Clr Turner said many students had confessed they considered taking a job instead of going to university because they feared leaving with heavy debts as a result of paying fees of around £3,000.
She added: “It’s absolutely wrong that students are leaving university with up to £20,000 of debt in some cases.
“Debts are low interest, but you are looking at the next 10 years of paying them off while you are trying to start work, buy a property, get a pension or maybe plan a family.
“It is wrong that we charge students like this.”
Clr Turner, the Lib-Dems’ prospective Parliamentary candidate for the Colne Valley, said support should be available to all students, not just those whose families are on low incomes.
She said: “It should be about the student, not the parents.
“People on low incomes should be supported, but there should be support for everyone.
“The thing that is worrying is that debt is putting people off going to university, so then Britain doesn’t benefit.
“If you educate a society the whole society gains.”