Less is being spent on teaching students at new universities compared with old universities and the gap is widening despite the government's commitment to widening participation, according to an analysis by lecturers' union Natfhe.
When Labour came to power in 1997, the money available for teaching students at new universities was some 66 per cent of the amount available for those at old universities.
While the total available has since risen, the increase has been greater in old universities. In 1999, the last year for which there are data, the cash available for teaching students at new universities had fallen to 61 per cent of the amount available at old ones.
Tom Wilson, head of the universities department at Natfhe, said: "It's a rough-and-ready measure but it would appear that a Labour government that is allegedly committed to widening participation should see there is something wrong here. There's not a level playing field and there damn well should be."
Natfhe looked at all income apart from research and divided the total by the number of full-time equivalent students.
The calculation neglects the different rates of funding for different subjects - medicine, for example, is more highly funded and takes place in old universities - but the union believes its figures are still indicative.
Some £5,200 was available for teaching each student at new universities in 1999, compared with £8,600 in old universities.
But the data hide some strong variations. There is more than ten times the cash for teaching students at the London Business School than there is at Derby University, for example.
The union said that it was fair to include income from endowments and donations in the calculation, and that it was right to equate teaching funding with non-research funding.
Mr Wilson said: "If Oxford receives money to help the upkeep of the Bodleian Library, so bloody what? The students still benefit from it."
A spokeswoman for the Department for Education and Skills said that the analysis was flawed and that similar courses attracted similar funding whatever institution was delivering them.