Northern Ireland's higher and further education minister, Sean Farren, has come under pressure to honour a commitment to abolish student loans and introduce a proper grants system.
With the province's devolved assembly due to debate the issue, Sinn Fein member John Kelly said the problem of student debt reinforced the need for the minister to deliver his commitments he made in December after the review of student finance.
He said figures released before Christmas in the Student Expenditure Survey had indicated that financial difficulty remains a big issue for most students.
"A majority also felt that funding deterred people from going to university and that financial difficulties had impacted negatively on their studies. The financial hardship and debt facing our students is evidence enough that Sean Farren needs to live up to commitments on the abolition of student loans and the introduction of a proper grants system."
Mr Kelly, who has proposed an assembly motion to address student debt, said the issue must be kept high on the agenda.