A record 1,600 students made official complaints against universities to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator in 2011.
According to the regulator, the figures showed a 20 per cent increase since last year, and a staggering three-fold jump in six years.
Many believe the increase in complaints corresponds with the rise in the cost of a degree as students believe they should be seeing value for money.
In total, the OIA received over 2,000 enquiries and 1,605 official complaints.
The OIA was set up by the previous Labour government to arbitrate between students and universities in England and Wales.
The figures showed that £184,188 in compensation was awarded to students in 2011, with the largest single payout £10,000.
The report said that a student was incorrectly awarded a first-class honours degree. He only discovered after his graduation that he actual achieved an upper-second. He received an apology from the university for the mix-up, and was given £750 in compensation.
A number of complaints were in relation to alleged plagiarism, with many students complaining about being marked down for essays.
Rob Behrens, chief executive of the body, said: “Although only constituting a small total, the number of complaints categorised in this way has doubled in percentage terms since 2008. In the context of the ready availability of essays for purchase on the internet, this growth is unsurprising.”
The report also suggested that students were receiving too much help from some academics, while others were not offering enough assistance.
The OIA added: “These ambiguities include: assistance with the submission of application for postgraduate study; extra tuition in a relevant subject beyond that provided by supervisors; research notes prepared by others on matters of relevance to the student’s work; dictating text to an assistant; relying on an assistant to draft text and having a native English speaker correct the drafts of students for whom English is a second language.”