Scottish undergraduates now owe an average of £2,000 for each year of study, according to a poll of 2000 students.

Undergraduates coming to the end of their first year of study can expect to owe an average of £9,884 by the time they graduate, the Push Student Debt Survey found.

But Scottish students owe considerably less than their counterparts in other parts of Britain and the study indicated that the debt accumulated per year of study has dropped by 36.5%, from £3,453 in 2008 to £2,194 in 2009.

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The average debt per year in England is £5,271, compared to £4,021 in Wales and £4,324 in Northern Ireland.

Johnny Rich, editor of Push.co.uk said: “With the economy in recession, students are even more concerned about debt than they have been in recent years.

“Finding part-time work has got harder and many students are facing real financial hardship and are worrying about what lies ahead. Even so, the advantages of having a degree still vastly outweigh the costs and the Push survey shows that - with high quality advice and information - students can keep their debts down while still enjoying the benefits of university.

“These figures will give next year’s review of student funding a real headache. They beg the question whether we’ve now passed the point where students can be expected to stump up any more towards their education.”

Projected debt upon graduation differs between universities, ranging from £1,961 for students at Queen Margaret’s University, who only accumulate £480 of debt a year, to £18,058 for those studying at the University of the West of Scotland, or £1,463 a year.

These figures are dwarfed by England’s, where people studying at the Central School of speech and drama are the most indebted in Britain, racking up £11,073 a year.

Wes Streeting, president of the National Union of Students (NUS), said: “With this year’s new university students set to graduate with over £23,000 of debt, and graduate employment opportunities at an all-time low, we find it astonishing that universities continue to demand ever higher fees.”

He added: “We are in danger of condemning an entire generation to a lifetime of debt.”

A Universities UK report published in March found that by 2016, a graduate’s average debt would be £26,400 if fees were raised to £5,000.

Universities minister David Lammy said: “This Government is committed to ensuring that finance is not a barrier to people going to university whatever their background, which is why we are spending £5 billion on student support this year alone.

“There are currently record numbers of students at our universities with applications at an all time high. We want to widen access further, which is why we will continue to offer a generous package of support including bursaries, grants and loans at low interest that do not have to be paid back until graduates are in work and earning over £15,000 a year.”

Other research released yesterday indicated that students are paying up to £1,400 a year extra in “hidden” university costs.

Books, equipment and field trips are unforeseen expenses bumping up undergraduates’ annual bills, according to a survey commissioned by the National Union of Students (NUS) and HSBC bank.

NUS president Wes Streeting said it was “completely unacceptable” that applicants were being “left in the dark about the true cost of degrees”.

The findings show that students on mathematical science and computer science courses are shelling out £1,430.40 per year on these “hidden costs” - more than three times that incurred by students doing education degrees (£432.48).

It makes these subjects the most expensive degrees, the survey found.

These costs are on top of tuition fees and living expenses.

The survey reveals that medical and dentistry students shell out £902.16 per year on extras, making them the second most expensive subject areas.

Business and administrative studies follows, with hidden costs of £873.36, and then creative arts and design (£701.04).

Besides education, subjects allied to medicine carried lower additional costs of £461.52.

Mr Streeting said: “It is completely unacceptable that applicants are left in the dark about the true cost of degrees. Many students preparing to go to university this summer may be in for a real shock.

“Universities need to be much more open about the hidden costs associated with different courses. There should be better information, advice and guidance about student finance on university websites and in their prospectuses.”

The survey, published days before teenagers across the country discover their A-level results, found that students’ finances deteriorate as they progress through university, forcing them to find other sources of income besides grants or loans.

Half (50%) of final year students rely on other loans, credit, or paid employment, compared to under a third (29%) of first years.

The survey questioned 1,187 students between June 2 and 24.