Nearly one in five university students regularly skip meals, while nearly 80 per cent of students have to work up to 16 hours a week to support themselves, forcing nearly one third of students to miss class due to work obligations according to a new Universities Australia survey.

The Universities Australia Study of University Student Finances in Australia 2012 survey shows that nearly 17 per cent of students said they regularly went without food or other basic necessities.

"Australian students already bear a greater burden of the costs of their education than their peers in many comparable countries and will be under greater pressure following the budget changes to student support programs," Universities Australia Sandra Harding said in her address to the National Press Club earlier this week.

"If we are to encourage people from low income or disadvantaged backgrounds to study for the jobs and industries of the future we should not be increasing the cost burden on our already hard-pressed students."

The release of the survey comes after Universities Australia blasted the recent funding cuts will see $2.8 billion stripped from the nation’s universities to fund the rollout of the Gonski school funding reforms.