A leading business publisher is to become the first FTSE 100 company to award its own degrees.
Pearson, which owns the Edexcel exam board as well as Penguin and the Financial Times, will recruit up to 100 undergraduates from September 2013 for a business and enterprise degree course.
David Willetts, the Universities minister, is trying to encourage private providers to set up their own degree courses.
Pearson will charge £6,500 a year for a basic three-year university course. Students are expected to be eligible for government loans to cover the fees and Pearson will also be offering "performance scholarships" to help its brightest recruits pay their fees.
Ministers believe a vibrant private sector charging less than the maximum £9,000 fee for their courses could put pressure on existing universities to reduce their fees.
Roxanne Stockwell, managing director of Pearson College, as it will be known, said that she expected to build the number of students gradually over the years.
The course will be validated by Royal Holloway and Bedford New College, part of the University of London, but the students will study at Pearson's offices in Manchester or London with the opportunity of a residential course at Royal Holloway's campus.