The findings, published today by the student guide Push, suggest that the average debt faced by UK graduates could rise from £26,100 to £53,400 under the new regime.
The survey is based on the responses of over 2,800 students from 115 institutions.
Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, said that the Higher Education Funding Council for England had already predicted a 2 per cent fall in undergraduate numbers in the first year of higher fees.
“Erecting punitive financial barriers is not the way to attract the best and the brightest and is bad for the health of the academic sector,” Ms Hunt said.
“It doesn’t take a genius to work out that if 2 per cent fewer people apply to university this will lead to significant funding gaps for institutions at a time when teaching budgets have been slashed by 80 per cent.”
However a spokesman for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said: “No one should be put off going to university for financial reasons.
“The majority of students will not pay £9,000 for their tuition and no first time undergraduate will have to pay up front costs.
“There is also is a more generous package of financial support available including higher living cost grants, fee waivers and scholarships. Graduates will make lower monthly repayments than they do now.”
The Push survey also says that students currently owe 25 per cent of their debt to organizations other than the Student Loans Company, with 5 per cent lent by banks and 2 per cent by credit card companies.
Liam Burns, president of the NUS, said: “The fact that the government thinks it's OK to hang an amount of debt equivalent to a small mortgage over someone's head while they study is one thing, but leaving young people reliant on commercial credit just to stay in education is scandalous.”