Australian tertiary students and graduates collectively owe $30 billion in unpaid loans.

The figures were reported by a News Corp publications this week, which claims the highest single amount owed is over $413,000 by one person.

In documents reportedly obtained by the Sydney-based newspaper, $7 billion of the total debt is listed as “doubtful” of ever being repaid.

The average debt owed for recipients of the interest-free Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) is around $16,000, but some reports say that could hit $19,500 by 2017.

The HELP system has been criticised for not doing enough to get back the loans, with repayments only coming after a former student begins earning more than $51,309 per annum. The debts are not collected from people who have moved overseas, which is potentially depriving the system of considerable returns but would cost a great deal to track down and recuperate.

It is important to note that the newspaper in which the debt figures were published is often accused of aligning with the Coalition party, which has recently flagged changes to university entrance and the HELP system to help save funds.

The publication claims HELP debts increased by over $1.5 billion in 2012-2013, which it says is a result of the former federal government's push for a higher proportion of young people to hold bachelor's degrees.

The Department of Education has again stated that it does not intend to package up and sell the HELP debts as one financial asset, though it is also possible that this idea would be taken on if it is recommended by the Commission of Audit.