Academics at the London School of Economics voted by four to one on Wednesday to accept the principle of fees for home and EU undergraduates as part of a package of measures designed to tackle a projected Pounds 3.7 million deficit by 2000.
The vote was 43 for and 12, including the student representative, against, with two abstentions. The issue will now go to the governors next Thursday and, if approved, fees could be phased in from September 1997.
The move makes LSE the first university to announce plans to introduce top-up tuition fees for British and EU undergraduates. Wednesday's vote reverses a decision three years ago when only eight voted in favour of top-up fees.
Fee levels and details would be worked out by the school's academic planning and resources committee. Preliminary calculations show that, while an Pounds 850 per student fee would raise around Pounds 1 million, a Pounds 3,500 fee would cover the whole projected deficit.
Claire Lawrie, students union treasurer said: "It is a sad day for the LSE and for students from poorer backgrounds who will be deterred. Tuition fees should be an option of the very last resort."
The academic board also agreed short-term measures recommended by the APRC, including increasing fees for overseas students, increasing the numbers of higher-fee overseas undergraduates and postgraduates and reducing staffing costs by 4 per cent by 1999/2000.
The resources committee pointed out that claims that fees would deter students from poorer backgrounds were not compelling since the numbers of UK undergraduates from fee-paying schools had increased from 24 per cent in 1975/76 to 46 per cent last year.
Director John Ashworth said: "My colleagues felt that as an internationally renowned centre of excellence we must not let our reputation be damaged by the reduction of state funding "