Welsh vice-chancellors have warned that top-up fees may be inevitable in Wales to stop academics fleeing universities for better funded English institutions.
Higher Education Wales, which represents vice-chancellors and principals, said that the loss of staff to English universities was "a very real threat". Top-up fees are due to be introduced in England in 2006.
Hew also fears a short-term influx of student "fee refugees" from England.
The Welsh Assembly is waiting for the results of a study of student finance that is due to report in April before making any decision on fees.