The Department for Education and Skills made "no detailed assessments" of any alternative top-up fee levels before setting the £3,000 limit, according to a senior civil servant, writes Phil Baty.
Peter Swift, deputy director, student finance policy, at the department, rejected a request under the Freedom of Information Act for documents discussing possible alternative fee levels. He said that "no detailed assessments were made of the potential different impact of various alternative fees".
Opposition parties reacted with disbelief at the statement.
"I am absolutely staggered," said David Rendel, the Liberal Democrats'
higher education spokesman. "They must have just picked the figure out of the air."
Chris Grayling, then higher education spokesman for the Conservative Party, said: "This is quite extraordinary. It exposes the policy as political tokenism rather than the result of any detailed consideration."