A further rise in tuition fees would be “a hammer blow to young people trying to make ends meet”, Labour has warned.

The party was responding to a proposal which could lead to universities being able to charge more than the current maximum £9,000-a-year fee.

Under the scheme, they would be given the opportunity to raise fees in exchange for taking on their students’ debt loans. The plans, first put forward by former Universities Minister David Willetts, are said to have the backing of six leading universities.

However, Chuka Umanna, Labour’s Shadow Business Secretary, said: “Not content with trebling tuition fees, the Tories are looking at clobbering students yet again.

“This news is a hammer blow to young people trying to make ends meet and proves once again that the Tories and Lib Dems stand up for no-one other than a privileged few.”

The proposal, who has been passed on to new Universities Minister Greg Clark, is unlikely to receive the go-ahead before the general election next year as the Lid Dems do not want to make tuition fees an issue in the run-up to the campaign for fear it will draw attention to the fact they broke their pledge not to increase fees when they went into coalition with Conservatives.

It is already being opposed by many vice-chancellors who believe only those universities with a higher proportion of students from rich families will benefit from it.

Meanwhile, Ukip announced it would scrap fees for students with good A-level results. Those who obtained two A grade and a B would be exempted under the party’s proposal.

Paul Nuttall, UKIP education spokesman, said: “Tuition fees act as a huge disincentive for poorer students, even the brightest ones, to go on to university.”