Some of England's most prestigious universities are considering whether to opt out of governments proposed teaching excellence framework (TEF).
Times Higher Education has reported that a number of Russel Group vice-chancellors are doubting whether the financial benefits linked to inflationary fee increases will outweigh the burden of participation in the second stage of TEF. The framework will see institutions being assessed according to their performance on student satisfaction, retention and graduate employment.
There are also concerns among some of the leading universities that their reputation could be damaged if they are not able to achieve a rating of outstanding, particularly if league tables are used against them internationally.
Universities have until December to decide whether they will take part in the exercise, however both the University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford have said that they had not made a final decision.
With the finer details of how the TEF will operate yet to be announced, some institutions may be delaying their decision in an attempt to influence the policy.
Some universities have also raised concerns over whether TEF will improve the quality of teaching across the sector, or that it will provide more informed student choice.
Stage one of the TEF, which is only based on the results of Quality Assurance Agency reviews, will still enable providers to increase their fees to £9,250 for the 2017/18 academic year only. Those that do not participate beyond stage one will be forced to lower their tuition fees to £9,000 again.