Students and staff at King Alfred's College, Winchester, have given a cool reception to government proposals on higher education funding.

President of its Student Union, Ben Rogers, welcomed the restoration of maintenance grants for poorer students. But he was less impressed by proposals to charge students tuition fees by way of increased taxes after graduation, which he feels, could see some students saddled with debts of over £20,000.

Said Mr Rogers: "The Government ruled out up-front top-up fees, having finally listened to students. To now propose that students should pay three times as much in fees after graduation is simply giving with one hand and taking back with another."

College principal, Professor Paul Light, gave a mixed reaction: "Many aspects of the package of measures on student finance are welcome. However, any variation in fee levels between universities is likely to produce real difficulties for both institutions and students and may hamper efforts to widen participation in higher education."

Winchester MP, Mark Oaten, called the proposals "a vicious blueprint for a two-tier system".

"Universities face a £10bn shortfall but institutionalising educational elitism is not the way to pay for it," he added.