Senior managers in the public sector say they do not agree with the government's planned rise in tuition fees to as much as £3,000 a year.
Fees are due to rise in 2006
Education ministers argue their plans will "crowbar open" up higher education for poorer students.
But four out of five of the 132 finance managers polled by the Reed Accountancy job agency said they disagreed.
The managers work for English councils, housing associations, education authorities and emergency services.
Reed Accountancy also found that 49% of its respondents opposed the government's target of getting half of under-30s experiencing higher education by 2010.
Lynne Shea, finance manager for Colne Housing Society, said: "The value of a degree would depreciate if 50% of people went to university."
Means-tested £1,000 grants from 2004
Upfront tuition fees end 2006
Fees then rise to £3,000 a year
First £1,125 subsidised for poor
Payable from graduate salary of £15,000+
Zero-rated student loan up to £4,000 a year
New access regulator
Research funding for the elite
50% participation through foundation degrees
A degree was "not just another HND", she said, referring to vocational sub-degree Higher National Diplomas.
The finance manager of Coventry City Council, Andrew Filby, was more concerned at the shortage of skilled craftsmen.
"More value should be placed on developing trade skills rather than persuading a large section of the young population to go to university and take courses that are often not especially relevant to the workplace," he said.
The Higher Education Minister, Alan Johnson, this week told university chiefs the government believed its policy was the right one, despite the vociferous opposition of a large number of Labour MPs.
During education questions in the Commons on Thursday, one of those MPs, Anne Campbell, said: "Top-up fees at some institutions and for some courses will deter the brighter students from those courses and those institutions."
Mr Johnson replied: "Our policy is for the first time going to crowbar open higher education for poorer, working class students."