David Willetts was appointed to shadow the new Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills this week, as the Conservative Party reshuffled its own team in response to Gordon Brown's Whitehall reforms.
Mr Willetts, the former Shadow Education Secretary, had been expected to lose his brief after triggering a row over grammar schools in May. He will keep half of the education portfolio, and Michael Gove will shadow the new Department for Children, Schools and Families.
Shadow Higher Education Minister Boris Johnson was still in post at the time of going to press. He said university funding would be a priority for his new boss.
"We have to look at ways of getting more money into higher education without enormous upfront costs for the taxpayer or deterring students. Vice chancellors although by no means all are now in favour of lifting the cap on top-up fees. The tough part is going to be converting that desire into a political reality."
The Conservatives have already tabled a question for the DIUS on the representations it has received on raising the fee cap.
Another of their priorities is to ensure the quality of higher education, Mr Johnson added. "I'm taking note of the increasing number of students who tell me they're not being adequately taught. It's coming up on my radar time after time."
He said students were increasingly determined to get value for their degrees and that many felt they were receiving "perfunctory tuition".
The Liberal Democrats said their Education Spokeswoman, Sarah Teather, would shadow the DIUS.