Only 35 per cent of respondents in their second or third year replied “yes” when asked if they thought obtaining a postgraduate degree would be value for money.
This contrasted with master’s and PhD students, where 59 and 77 per cent respectively felt that their postgraduate degree was worth the price.
One second year undergraduate taking part in the survey described postgraduate study as “an unaffordable luxury”.
Rachel Wenstone, NUS vice-president (higher education), said that thousands of students every year were denied the opportunity to get postgraduate qualifications because they could not afford to pay upfront fees.
“It is often only the very rich, the very lucky or those who are willing to gamble with high levels of debt that have access to master’s level education,” she said.
“The value of postgraduate qualifications to individuals is clear in an increasingly competitive jobs market and there are wider economic benefits in terms of skills uplift in the economy and reductions in unemployment.”
According to the latest Higher Education Funding Council for England figures, there was a drop of 6 per cent in postgraduate numbers in 2011-12.
Elsewhere in the survey, salary expectations were found to be much higher for master’s and PhD students, with 18 and 41 per cent respectively believing they would earn a starting salary of £31,000 or higher. Among bachelor’s degree students, this figure fell to just 5 per cent.
The survey, which was carried out by careers and postgraduate advice website Graduates.co.uk, also revealed that only 57 per cent of undergraduates believe a postgraduate degree would improve their job prospects.