Some of the worst universities in Britain plan to charge students close to the maximum fee of £9,000 a year and not one of them plans to charge average fees of £6,000 a year or less — the level which ministers said would be the norm when they announced the controversial proposals.
Most of the bottom 20 plan to charge more than £7,500 a year.
Universities had until yesterday to indicate privately if they intended to charge more than £6,000 a year for students entering higher education in 2012 — although they have until later this month to set their exact fee levels.
No final decision on Northern Ireland university fee levels will be taken before the May election and a public consultation was launched instead. Fees here are capped at £3,290.
However, Higher Education Minister Danny Kennedy said new ways of financing higher education are needed and backed raising fees to between £5,000 and £5,750.