Half of graduates will be paying off loans in their 50s under the new tuition fees, according to research.
Their research also suggests that middle-class students will feel the full force of the new funding system, as they will accrue the highest level of debt. This is because they may be ineligible for a student grant, despite being dependent on a full maintenance loan, accumulating greater overall debt.
Students from poorer backgrounds are expected to graduate with less debts, because they are likely to apply for institutions charging lower fees. Wealthy students who do not require the maximum student loan will also fare better than middle-class students.
David Willetts, Universities Minister, said this research “vindicates” his decision to raise tuition fees. “Students still at university, institutions, taxpayers and poorer graduates will be better off under the new system," he said.
Research suggests, however, that 70% of students will be worse off under the new system. The average graduate debt is expected to rise by almost 60% from £22,127 to £37,658 when the new university funding scheme starts this autumn.