BALLARAT Grammar School principal Stephen Higgs said fewer year 12 students were planning to defer university over higher education bill fee increase fears.
Mr Higgs said the bill, to go before the Senate in early December, was one of the most radical educational changes in his lifetime.
"Certainly for the students here it's a real topic of concern for them," Mr Higgs said.
"At one stage, 40 per cent of our students were deferring to work or travel or get a better idea of what they want to do but now they feel the need to get into university as soon as possible."
Mr Higgs said the controversial bill's introduction also needed a much longer lead-in time to be implemented properly.
"Now the students are having to commit to something with no real idea of the cost of it."
Mr Higgs was speaking with the University of Melbourne's Graduate Student Association president Jim Smith, National Union of Students national women's officer Georgia Kennelly and BGS head of careers Karin Miller at the Forest Street school on Wednesday.
Mr Smith said regional students face serious disadvantage if fee deregulation is introduced, with current Ballarat school students having to choose between a big debt or not going to university at all.
"Regional students are already disadvantaged by a metro-centric university system," Mr Smith said.
"Two Federation University campuses offer higher education to the Ballarat community. The university has 12,925 students with 11.5 per cent of them coming from low socio-economic backgrounds. This group may opt to not pursue university education because of the extreme financial barriers."
Both Mr Higgs and Mr Smith said regional students also faced extra living costs if moving to Melbourne to study.
Ms Kennelly said a mooted 20 per cent cut to university funding was a "lose-lose".
"Universities will have to increase student fees by 20 per cent or cut courses or cut staff," Ms Kennelly said.
They all urged concerned students and parents to contact their local and crossbench senators, including John Madigan, Ricky Muir and Palmer Party representatives, to push for the bill to be blocked.
"I commend Mr Higgs for standing up for the futures of high school students in Ballarat and across Australia, and I call on other headmasters and university vice-chancellors to do the same," Mr Smith said.