Middle class rather than poor students will be hardest hit by tuition top-up fees, Warwick University's outgoing vice-chancellor Professor David VandeLinde has warned.
Prof VandeLinde stepped down from his role after five years during which he helped make the university one of the most sought after higher education institutions in the country. The 63-year-old said the tripling of tuition fees from this autumn was a "good deal" for less well off students.
"For poor students it will be a better deal than the current one but that hasn't got across very well," he said.
"It is tripling the fee to make it £2,000 more but for poor students we will provide student bursaries and the Government is providing grants so they may not have to pay any money to go to university."
But he added: "There is always the danger for the middle classes. The Government says support stops for students from families whose salary is about £22,000.
"We are providing some support to those from families with income of £35,000. There is this middle range with which one has to be very careful.
"I wouldn't want to criticise the Government for it because they made provision to take care of the very poor."
Prof VandeLinde said he was in favour of the principle of top-up fees.
"When we are moving into a knowledge economy, tertiary education is very important for a huge proportion of the population," he said.
"The Government quite reasonably said we would have to limit the availability of this if we continue to pay for it all.
"There is a financial reward for furthering your education. If there is a personal gain, then it is reasonable to invest in that."
Prof VandeLinde said US-style contributions from past alumni would be an increasing part of supplementing the income of universities.
"Some of the scholarships we are providing are from friends and alumni," he said.
"The number of annual scholarships has gone up from 400 five years ago to 2,000 provided by friends and alumni."