The Government will scrap university top-up fees if this is recommended by the 2009 review of tuition charges, MPs heard this week.
Alan Johnson, the Education Secretary, told members of the Education and Skills Select Committee: "The review could lead to us abandoning this policy altogether. It's going to be a very serious review."
The review of top-up fees was agreed by the Government in 2004 as part of its efforts to secure support for the Higher Education Bill that introduced them.
Committee member Stephen Williams, Liberal MP for Bristol West, suggested that the fees review could be torpedoed in the same way that Tony Blair undermined the energy review with his statement about nuclear power.
Mr Johnson said the review would be "meaningful", but he added that 2009 was really too early to see how the system was functioning as it would be the first year in which all three undergraduate years would pay top-ups.