LEGAL advice to be presented to the Committee of Vice Chancellors and Principals next week is likely to rule out top-up fees for 1997.
The CVCP sought advice because of concerns about the position of students who had deferred their place or were already going through the applications procedure.
The legal advice is expected to throw light on when an enforceable contract between a student and university arises and how the Universities and Colleges Admissions System should ensure that applicants are aware of this contract and its terms.
This could have implications for universities poaching students from other institutions during clearing.
Lawyers have also been asked whether an education secretary could claw back money raised through top-up fees.
David Blunkett, the Labour party's spokesman on education, told his party conference last month that a Labour government would do its best to prevent institutions benefiting financially through top-up fees.
But attempts to take back the money could be in breach of the 1988 Education Act which stops the Government clawing back money raised through private means.