The comments, by the head of
Britain's university vice-chancellors, Professor Ivor
Crewe, have angered students.
"A graduate who starts off at £18,000 a year in London
will be paying back £5.30 a week - which is a couple of
pints of beer," he said.
Professor Crewe was speaking to the Independent
He is the head of Universities UK and the
vice-chancellor of Essex University.
Professor Crewe said: "Now, most students could afford a
couple of pints of beer when they were students, so they
can afford to pay back a couple of pints after graduating.
Mandy Telford, president of the National Union of
Students, said: "He has trivialised student hardship - the
repercussions of which continue on into graduates' working
lives, stopping them from contributing to pensions, being
able to leave the parental home and getting on to the
From 2006, universities will be able to charge top-up
tuition fees of up to £3,000 a year, but students will not
need to pay them up-front.
They will pay the fees back once they start work and
earn over a certain amount, presently set at £15,000.
Paul Mackney, the general secretary of NATFHE, the
University and College Lecturers' Union, was also angered
by Professor Crewe's remarks.
"The truth is that top-up fees of £3000 a year - and
nobody expects that to remain the maximum - will send
graduates into their working life with considerable debt.
"A first degree should not cost a second mortgage and
the real deterrent effect of such debts should not be