All of which augurs a tremendous confrontation with the universities. Our halls of learning are already feeling unduly burdened by the impostions of the coalition's fees policy. Adding more demands on top could push some of them even further towards stepping outside the system altogether, severing their ties with the state and going independent.
But the bigger confrontation could be the political one over university places. There is, after all, a possibility that the number or proportion of university students could go down in the next few years. If so, Labour will no doubt claim that, by raising fees, the coalition has turned a generation off higher education. Whereas the coalition might say that students are making more informed choices about whether university is for them, and aren't being conned by the cheap courses that proliferated under the last government. Whoever wins out, tuition fees — and what they buy — are likely to be a fractious doorstep issue at the next election.