Worries over funding are making higher education heads in Wales nervous over the prospect of introducing an entrance levy.
Many believe that Welsh institutions would suffer serious recruitment problems if they were to follow a call from the Committee of Vice Chancellors and Principals for a blanket levy to cover budget cuts.
The CVCP has threatened to impose an entrance charge if the Government fails to redress massive reductions in higher education spending, brought in by last November's Budget settlement.
But members of the new Heads of Higher Education Wales fear such a move would hit Welsh institutions hard, with many relying heavily on recruiting from regional and relatively poor communities.
Until recently most Welsh vice chancellors and principals have kept quiet about their concerns in an effort to present a united front with the CVCP.
But allocations announced by the Welsh funding councils last month have left some institutions feeling vulnerable and counting the likely cost of a levy.
Keith Robbins, vice chancellor of the University of Wales, Lampeter, and chairman of HHEW, said there was "a good deal of scepticism" about a levy among Welsh higher education heads, despite a commitment to follow the CVCP lead. With big capital cuts being phased in over the next three years in Wales, some institutions might feel hard-pushed to fulfil that commitment, he said. "If push comes to shove, we may not be shoved," he warned.
Adrian Webb, vice chancellor of the University of Glamorgan, said even talk about a levy could cause problems for Welsh institutions.
"It could have a big impact because we are substantially a sub-regional community in our pattern of recruitment, drawing on quite impoverished areas," he added.