Conjuring up fortune for uni life

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Here’s a question for you. Would you borrow £50,000 to go on holiday for three years with a bunch of people you don’t know yet?

And not only that, instead of being charged the current rate of interest on the loan (0.5 per cent), it’s jacked up to 6.1 per cent – and that’s from the minute the money lands in your account.

This is the dilemma faced by students who want to go to university. Loans for tuition fees, rent and living costs topped up by the Bank Of Mum And Dad.

There are loan sharks operating out of pubs who offer more favourable terms than the Student Loans Company – although they probably won’t send Big Dave round to rough you up in front of your wife and kids if your payment’s late, well, not until they’re bought out by a private equity firm in a few years.

As you can tell from my curt manner, this is preying on our minds a lot, what with daughter #1 planning to go to university this autumn and daughter #2 a couple of years behind her.

The boss and I spent a long Sunday morning filling out an incredibly detailed student finance form. How much you earn, how much your wife earns, what she weighs, what your other kids are doing, what pets you’ve got and if their jabs are up to date.

Last summer, daughter #1 and I went to her first choice’s open day. A Russell Group university which looked for all the world like Hogwarts School Of Witchcraft And Wizardry.

She fell in love with the place at first sight, they made her a conditional offer and she has worked her backside off to try to get the grades she needs to get in.

While we were there, the head of the department gave a very detailed talk about what they do.

Then he said a very interesting thing. Undergraduates get eight hours of contact time a week.

So for £9,250 a year (plus 6.1 per cent interest), over three nine-week terms, tuition fees work out at £342 a week – almost £43 an hour.

For that money, I’d want personal one-to-one tuition from Professor Dumbledore on turning base metals into gold.