Southampton MP John Denham accused the government of creating a “corrupt university admissions” system during Commons clashes last night.

The Shadow business Secretary waded into the row over plans to allow institutions to charge some UK students the same fees as those paid by students from overseas to allow them to secure a place at university.

Mr Denham, who represents Southampton Itchen, demanded universities minister David Willets appear in the Commons to answer an urgent question on the proposals, which he warned would “corrupt university admissions with a two-tier system – one for the best qualified applicants, another for those with access to fatter cheque books”.

He added: “Students from lowincome homes want fairness, not favours.

“Don’t you understand that a few places won’t soften the brutal message that for this Tory government access to wealth and privilege will always trump ability and ambition?”

He branded the plan a “cruel betrayal of Middle England”, which would face “agonising pressure to take on huge private debts”.

But Mr Willetts insisted that the move would allow businesses and charities to sponsor students.

He told MPs: “There is absolutely no question of wealthy students being able to buy their way into university.”

Mr Willetts said ministers were considering ways of allowing universities to recruit extra students in addition to their student number allocation.

“There are two options we are considering – first, making it easier for employers to sponsor students at university, secondly, making it easier for charities to sponsor students at university. Rich individuals should not be able to buy their way into university.”