More than a third of English universities have been granted permission to charge fees of £9,000 as standard from 2012, it has been confirmed.
Students starting degree courses from next year face average tuition fees of almost £8,500. Overall, almost three fifths of universities will charge the maximum £9,000 for at least one of their undergraduate courses.
University fee levels for next year have been released by the Office for Fair Access (OFFA), as it published each institution's plans for preventing disadvantaged youngsters being priced out of higher education.
Every university which wants to charge more than £6,000 in fees has had to have its proposals for recruiting poorer students approved by OFFA.
These "access agreements" will be reviewed each year, with institutions that fail to meet their agreed targets on recruitment and retention facing fines or losing the right to charge more than £6,000.
OFFA on Tuesday confirmed that 123 universities, plus 18 further education (FE) colleges submitted access agreements for approval. Of these, all but two, both from FE colleges, have been agreed so far.
Among those that have had their access agreements approved, 80 universities and one FE college (58%) will now charge fees of £9,000, the maximum allowed, for one or more of their courses.
More than a third (38%) of universities - 47 out of the 123 that submitted proposals - will charge £9,000 across the board. This includes many of England's most elite institutions, including Oxford and Cambridge.
When FE colleges are taken into account, 48 institutions out of 139 will set the maximum fee as standard. But OFFA insisted that just 7% of institutions will have an estimated average fee of £9,000 after fee waivers for poorer students are taken into account.
These institutions are Bradford University; Durham University; University of East London; University College Falmouth; Lincoln University; University of the Arts London; University College London; University of the West of England, Bristol; and Plymouth College of Art.