Pity the poor student who wants to enter higher education in 2006. Not because of top-up fees, the arguments for which have been well-rehearsed here and elsewhere, but for the baffling array of offers that any applicant will have to weigh up before settling on a course. The KPMG- Times Higher survey suggests that, while market research may have been surprisingly lacking, creative minds have been at work on the packages under scrutiny at the Office for Fair Access. Family income, home location and A-level grades will all come into the equation, with a wide variety of bursaries and discounts available to those who qualify. And all that is before the start of clearing, when a whole new set of inducements may appear. Whether applicants will plough through the small print remains to be seen. Those from affluent families and with less than perfect A levels will not be eligible in any case. For most students, the overriding concern will continue to be the quality of the course and the surroundings in which they will be spending the next three (or more) years.