The Office for Fair Access (Offa) has published guidelines showing how much universities should spend on fee subsidies and outreach projects.
Offa director Sir Martin Harris told the Today programme that universities hoping to raise their fees would have to demonstrate both a financial support package for poorer students and a "major programme of outreach" to improve access for students from deprived areas.
"The evidence of success won't come instantly," he said, explaining that the targets had to be realistic and demanding, and would be monitored on a year-on-year basis.
"It's a pretty powerful regime," he said.
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