Fifty-three per cent of those quizzed by YouGov say they do not believe the maximum tuition fee - which students will pay from this autumn - represents value for money for students.
Thirty per cent of the 1,687 people polled shortly after A-level results day on 16 August say university is worth £9,000 a year, while 16 per cent are not sure.
Opinion is largely split on whether students will be better off in the long term by attending university.
Forty-two per cent of those polled say most graduates will be worse off as their increased earnings will be outweighed by the cost of going to university, whereas 41 per cent say they will be better off.
Women are more pessimistic about the "graduate premium", with 45 per cent saying that graduates will be worse off , opposed to 35 per cent who feel they will be better off.
Forty-six per cent of men say the expense of attending university will pay off in the long run, compared with 39 per cent who believe the opposite.
Members of the public were also asked about the impact of the government’s decision to allow universities to recruit as many students achieving AAB at A level as they wish.
Just over a third (39 per cent) support the policy because it will increase competition between universities, while 29 per cent are against it. Almost a third (32 per cent) did not offer an opinion.
Tougher marking of A levels, which led to a drop in top grades achieved this year, is widely backed by the public, the poll showed.
Sixty-one per cent of students say it is right to introduce tougher marking because exams had become too easy, making it harder for top students to stand out, while 18 per cent are against the stricter marking rules.
Rising results in previous years are blamed on exams becoming easier by almost half of respondents (48 per cent), with 22 per cent crediting better teaching and 12 per cent attributing the increases to more talented and harder-working students.