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Fees force students into £200 billion debt in next 45 years

The new tuition fee system will plunge students into nearly £200 billion of debt over the next 45 years, according to estimates by the department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).

The figures were released following a freedom of information request by Liberal Conspiracy who handed the results to the Independent on Sunday.

The figures show that by 2047 students will be in a total of £191 billion of debt. £191 billion is over a fifth of Britain’s current national deficit.

Last year, when the changes to the system were being voted through, BIS put its full estimate of future student debt at just £67 billion, peaking in 2027.

BIS now estimates that 30 percent of students will never pay back their loans in full and the taxpayer will be required to plug this gap. But critics have raised concerns that these figures are optimistic and derided the Tories’ higher education plans.

Nicholas Barr, a Professor at the London School of Economics and contributor to the Browne review into student finance, told the Independent on Sunday: “The 30 percent non-repayment figure is based on optimistic assumptions of fee-level and the rate of growth.” He also said the new system was “badly designed and … incredibly expensive to the taxpayer”.

The NUS president Liam Burns accused the government of passing the buck. He said: “All the government has done is simply succeed in getting the debt off its books and placed it on exactly the same people in 40 years’ time.”

Meanwhile in Ireland, freedom of information requests have revealed that university bosses are spending tens of thousands of euros a year on flights and hotels in a bid to promote their colleges and attract international students.

The Sunday Times reported: “Michael Murphy, the president of University College Cork (UCC) […] spent €33,787 in flights and another €10,000 on hotels and restaurants. The UCC president’s spend on travel and the total cost of running his office last year [was] €175,534 excluding salaries”. Murphy is also paid a salary of €232,151.

Request is curious to know what Russell Group executives are claiming in expenses.

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