CASH should be diverted away from universities and into further education colleges, Helena Kennedy QC's inquiry into widening access to education is expected to recommend.
A month before publication of the report, the inquiry is already creating a schism between higher and further education.
In a speech to adult learners' organisation NIACE last week, Ms Kennedy said that "if government is committed to widening participation in learning there has to be some financial redistribution". She will also reccommend tuitions fees for university students and a change in student support to help part-time learners and remove the bias favouring undergraduates.
John Brennan, director of further education development at the Association of Colleges, welcomed the moves. "Most FE students pay a high proportion of their tuition costs and the likelihood of them having their maintenance costs paid are slim," he said.
A spokeswoman for the Committee of Vice Chancellors and Principals said that the CVCP was "concerned about reports that Kennedy would advocate a major switch of funding from higher education".
Sheffield University professor Tom Wilson has labelled the plans "arrogant and stupid".