University students and graduates aged 40 and under have nearly double the amount of non-student loan debt compared with those who did not attend university, according to research.

Among those with debts, those who attended university have £12,445-worth of debt on average, excluding any student loans, while people who did not attend university typically owe £7,105, credit reference agency Equifax found.

Nearly half (47%) of university students and graduates said receiving a student loan made them more comfortable with other forms of borrowing.

Paula Roche, managing director of consumer solutions at Equifax UK, said: “We know that graduates earn more, and are more likely to have a mortgage by the time they hit 40 years old, but there are signs that this greater exposure to the credit market is also being driven by a greater familiarity with, or even desensitisation to, borrowing while at university.

“Whether it’s credit cards or car finance, using the credit system and building up a credit history is one of the best ways to build a positive credit score, which could be giving graduates a further advantage when applying for a mortgage in later life.

“Whilst taking out different forms of credit isn’t problematic when managed responsibly and repaid on time, it’s important for all young people to understand the different types of credit available, and to have a clear view of how their financial history may influence their ability to access them.”

Levels of anxiety when managing money were found to be high for all young people in the study, regardless of background.

Two-thirds (64%) of those paying off a student loan said managing their money causes them anxiety, compared with 57% of those who did not attend university.

– More than 3,000 people aged 18 to 40 were surveyed across the UK.