The yearly cost of studying for a degree has risen 300% in the past two decades, according to research today.
Figures published by the University and College Union (UCU) show the spiralling cost to students of higher education, and suggest it will continue to grow.
It comes as thousands of students and lecturers across the UK prepare to descend on Westminster to protest against the Government's planned tuition fee hike and university funding cuts.
According to UCU's analysis, the annual cost of going to university was £1,545.50 in 1988-89. It claims this had risen to £6,360 by 2009-10 - a 311.5% increase.
By 2012-13 - the year the new tuition fee cap comes in - the analysis suggests that the annual cost will be £12,750 per year - a further 100% increase.
The analysis claims that in comparison with the increase in the cost of going to university, the cost of a shopping basket of everyday items rose by 127.1% between 1988 and 2010.
UCU also claimed that despite increasing costs, the staff to student ration has also risen, with one member of staff for every 16.3 students in 2008-09, up from one staff member for every 12.6 students in 1988.
The union has called plans to charge students as much as £9,000 per year to go to university "the final nail in the coffin of affordable university education".
UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: "Politicians have consistently let students down over the years. However, this latest set of proposals go too far. If implemented, the Government's plans will completely change the landscape of further and higher education.
"They would represent the final nail in the coffin of affordable university education and the end of genuine choice of degree for thousands of people.
"The rest of the world is investing in education yet we're doing the opposite. College grants that are often the difference between some students being able to study or not - the education maintenance allowance - are being axed and university students are expected to shoulder the burden of punitive cuts to teaching grants."
Under the Government's proposals, which represent the most radical shake-up of student funding for decades, the fee cap will be raised to £6,000, with universities able to charge up to £9,000 - triple the current cap - - in "exceptional circumstances".
Tuition fees currently stand at £3,290 a year.
A demonstration against the proposals will take place in central London today.