Pictured above is Old College, Aberystwyth, part of Aberystwyth University in Wales.

A report released by the Student Loans Company revealed that Welsh students owe a collective £3.7 billion in student loans. At this point last year, the combined student debt total in Wales was £3.3 billion, reflecting a 12 percent increase in student debt.

At the end of the 2016/17 financial year, Wales had 304,900 student loan borrowers, and 191,100 of these debtors had accounts liable for repayment. Those two figures reflect yearly increases of 7 percent and 11 percent, respectively.

Following suit with the rest of the figures, the amount being lent to Welsh students attending higher education institutions increased by 11 percent over the year, amounting to £438.7 million in total this academic year.

There is some good news for Wales. Net repayments by consumers in 2016/17 amounted to £99.5 million, a 9 percent increase from last year. Furthermore, voluntary repayments totaled £12 million which was an increase of 25 percent compared to 2015/16.

On average, Welsh student borrowers owe £19,280 in student loan debt. According to the Student Loan Report, the average US student borrower owes $27,857 in student debts. When converting pounds to dollars, the average Welsh student would owe $24,996 in student loan debt.

In comparison to the rest of the UK, English students owe £32,220 in student loan debt for 2016/17. Students in Northern Ireland owe £20,990 on average while Scottish students owe £11,740 on average.

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As a whole, the UK owes £100.5 in outstanding student loan debt, a 16 percent increase from last year, as previously reported by the Student Loan Report. This is the first time the United Kingdom owes over £100 billion in student loans. England accounts for £89.3 billion of this number. Northern Ireland is responsible for £3 billion. Scotland owes £4.5 billion, and Wales accounts for the remaining balance of £3.7 billion. The four countries representing the UK all saw increases in overall outstanding student loan debt from last year.

For reference, UK student borrowers in general are on the hook to begin repayment once their yearly income reaches £21,000. However, outstanding student loan debt is written off after 30 years no matter what. Only 41,430, or 16 percent of liable borrowers in the UK, had fully repaid their student loan debt in 2016/2017.

These figures lead many to believe that UK student debt will be largely unrecoverable. Contributing to this pessimistic outlook, increasing numbers of foreign students from the EU are leaving the country without resolving their student debt, leaving the taxpayers with the bill. While the UK’s student debt situation lacks the magnitude of its American counterpart, student debt in the UK is seemingly on its way to becoming a much more significant and desperate issue, especially after considering the relative impact on a smaller nation.

Image Copyright © tracey_dw