Sunderland University students told: careful with your cash

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STUDENTS preparing to return to university are being warned to keep check of their finances.

Many students across the UK should expect to have more than £50,000 debt after finishing their studies, a recent survey revealed.

However, living costs and general fees appear to be faring well on Wearside compared to other parts of the country.

The average student accommodation costs in the city stand at an average of £61.05 a week, which is considerably less than some parts of the country.

Students living in Durham will be left paying an average of £66.75 a week.

But staff from Sunderland students’ union and the university still think higher education is worth the debt.

Carley Howell, vice-president of Sunderland University students’ union, said: “It is a worry for most of the students, but what else can they do?

“They know that is the only option they have, so all of them are in the same boat.

“I think they can worry about that afterwards.

“While they are studying, it shouldn’t be their main concern.”

A spokesman for the University of Sunderland said: “Rents in the majority of University of Sunderland halls of residence have not risen in the academic year 2011-2012.

“There has been a small rise, between 2.5 per cent for standard rooms to 3.64 per cent for very large rooms and on-campus flats.

“There has also been a small rise in rent in some accommodation which now have fuel costs included in their rent.

“However, while many students have seen no rental increases at all, the few rental increases which have been introduced are still significantly below the four per cent national rate of inflation.”

Not everyone agrees with the relaxed attitude towards the increased debts.

David Barksby, a mechanical engineering student thinks bigger debts will add stress to students.

He said: “If I was to pay the new fees, I would re-consider joining the university.

“Although a degree may give you a good job, the money that you have to pay back balances that good job out.

“You have a lot of stress, you become money-conscious. You will be constantly thinking of how you’re going to pay back the loan.”

However, Mike King, president of Durham University students’ union, recommends that students should not panic.

He said: “When you look at the facts, you can see that students don’t have to pay back until they get a job with a £21,000 salary.

“Knowledge is a big issue and I believe that those figures shouldn’t affect students’ decisions.

“They have to understand the value of higher education.”

Not all students are panicking and some are even taking a laid-back approach.

Stephen Machan, a third-year news journalism student at Sunderland University said: “Student accommodation is going up like everything else but I can still manage to live on my student loan and bursaries from the university.

“My rent is £65 a week excluding bills so it’s not exactly cheap, but it does cost a lot less than the rest of the country and it’s only a five-minute walk from where I live to get to the campus.”

Cost breakdown

LIVING costs (average per month):

* Accommodation £320.96

* Travel £7.50

* Food £150

* Course materials £32.50

* Clothes, toiletries and grooming £45

* Social life £95

* Miscellaneous expenses £35

Total monthly cost: £685.96.