Britain's famed Oxford and Cambridge universities are set to significantly hike their student fees to cover their rising costs.
According to plans under consideration by the Conservative Party, the elite British institutions could be allowed to increase fees to as much as 16,000 pounds a year.
Under points being considered for the Tory manifesto, former higher education minister David Willetts told the Sunday Times that he had held talks with a dozen of Britain's top universities to explore whether they would want to buy their students' loan debts and try to collect them.
In return, they would expect to raise fees above the current 9,000-pound-a-year limit.
"There is a long-standing issue with Oxbridge, because their distinctive high model means that the 9,000 pounds does not cover all their costs," Willetts told the newspaper.
Both universities confirmed that they estimated they needed up to 16,000 pounds to cover the costs of teaching students in small groups and within the expensive college system and currently funded the gap themselves.
The UK government faces a debt time-bomb and latest estimates suggest that up to 45 per cent of the loans students borrow for university fees and living expenses will never be repaid because graduates will not command high enough salaries.
A research exercise tracking how successful 170,000 graduates have been in starting lucrative careers over the past 20 years is expected to spark demands that taxpayers stop paying for degrees for students with poor salary prospects.