Encouraging students from poor backgrounds to attend university emerged yesterday as the core of the UK government's long-awaited white paper The Future of Higher Education.

To enforce University compliance with these aims, Charles Clarke, the education Secretary told parliament that he has appointed an access regulator to work with the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).

Reaching those in socio-economically deprived areas is one of the main problems facing higher education, agrees Labour MP Ian Gibson, chairman of the House of Commons Select Committee on Science and Technology.

As expected, the white paper also allows compliant universities to charge fees of up to £3000 per year for certain courses — so-called "top-up fees" — as opposed to the current fee of £1100. Students will begin to repay the debt they incur once they are earning in excess of £15,000 per year. In the meantime, said a spokeswoman...

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