Louise, 18, who got 257 thousand A*’s in subjects you’ve never even heard of, had her place at University College London to study Chemistry confirmed. “I didn’t get into my first choice of Imperial because I got a B in Maths, but I’m still very happy with UCL. They have the same fee structure so I’m still getting the same debt enslavement that you’d expect from any good university.” Her mother was particularly proud: “I thought I’d never get to see my children owing ridiculous amounts of money paying for things of dubious worth, after the 2008 financial crisis and the end of cheap credit,. I couldn’t be prouder of her: I didn’t manage to rack up that kind of debt until I was in my 30’s. She’s doing it and she’s barely left school.”
With nearly all UK universities charging £9,000 a year, most applicants will receive the debt levels that they deserve, as the beneficiaries of parents who had free education. Only a handful of places offer less, though in the case of London Metropolitan (a snip at £6,000), the increased cost of living in the capital should serve as an adequate subsidy. Students for whom the UK system is not enough are even looking across the Atlantic, where fees of tens of thousands per year and even higher interest rates are common, which would be a concrete way to get any prospective unemployed graduate firmly and permanently on the debt ladder.