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Interest rates hammer tuition fees

Students who cannot afford to pay tuition fees upfront are at a financial disadvantage, the BMA medical students conference heard.

The conference heard how the raising of the cap on tuition fees to £9,000 a year has led to an increase in the interest rates on student loans.

Students who entered medical school this academic year now face interest over and above inflation. Interest rates are set at the retail price index plus 3 per cent — a policy the conference opposed.

King’s College London third year Adam Pilarski said: ‘This means for the first time students will end up paying back more than they originally borrowed in real terms.’

The conference agreed that the changes meant that student loan rates were now similar to commercial loans.

The situation would especially affect medical students because of the duration of their course and the interest would continue to accrue even when students’ fees were paid by the NHS bursary scheme in the later years of their degrees, the conference heard.

Medical students called on the BMA medical students committee to oppose any real-terms, above-inflation, interest-rate rises on tuition fees.