All but a tiny minority of elite universities would see funding cuts if top-up fees were introduced, and one in five universities might close, lecturers' union Natfhe has warned, writes Phil Baty.
In its submission to Sir William Taylor's review of higher education funding, Natfhe said: "Top-up fees would promote inequality (and) curb expansion."
Market forces would not allow many institutions to command significant top-up fees, while their introduction among the elite would reduce public support and the pressure on the government to provide adequate funding.
Greenaway argues that charging students up to Pounds 18,000 for a degree, with a system of bursaries for poorer students, is the only way to find the billions of pounds of extra funding needed.
Natfhe claims that it would take fees of up to Pounds 8,500 a year to fund bursaries and scholarships, so the cost would fall to the state. "Institutions charging top-up fees would thus have abandoned the cardinal principle of entry on academic rather than financial criteria. Operation of that principle would be handed over to the state."