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£9bn a year cost of student debts

Unpaid student debts could cost the taxpayer around £9 billion a year, a report has found.

According to research by investment managers Skandia, unless students immediately earn a £50,000 salary upon leaving university, a "significant amount" of their debt will be written off.

Plans to triple fees to a maximum of £9,000 were approved by MPs in December 2010, but this will be paid in the form a loan. Any part of this loan which is unpaid after 30 years will be written off.

The report estimates that if the number of university applicants remains the same, this will cost the Government £8.7 billion in 2045.

The figure is dependent on interest rates and the number of students, but it could rise to £9.6 billion.

The report, entitled First Steps to Wealth, also found that graduates earn more than £600,000 more in their careers than 18-year-olds joining the workforce, an average of over £14,000 a year.

Graham Bentley, head of investment strategy at Skandia, said: "Those who are able to study for a degree can expect to earn a good living over their lifetime even if they don't get the job of their dreams straight away and despite incurring costs to complete the course.

"On average, the additional salary received by graduates more than off-sets the debt incurred in studying for a degree."

He added: "Perhaps the biggest challenges highlighted in this study are for the Government."

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