Top universities to get chance to grow

England's most sought-after universities will be allowed to expand as a result of the biggest shake-up in higher education for nearly half a century.

A long-awaited government White Paper, to be published next week, will let them increase entry numbers to take in students who obtain at least two A grades and a B at A-level. Until now, numbers have been capped.

The move is aimed at universities like Oxford and Cambridge which annually turn away thousands of students with straight A grade passes.

Ministers also plan to allow universities charging the cheapest fees to expand in a belated bid to encourage lower prices.