Many universities are hoping to increase tuition fees next year to improve their revenue. But if they want to charge more than £6,000 they will have to find a way to get many more students from disadvantaged backgrounds onto their courses.
Dr Lee Elliot Major, research director of the Sutton Trust, said that "the devil's going to be in the detail" of the system for oversight run by the Office for Fair Access (Offa).
Universities minister David Willetts said that Offa would have a "serious set of powers" to ensure institutions met their commitment to improve social mobility.
The fact that universities could only increase their fees above £6000 if they complied with Offa "would focus minds," he added.
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