'Student tuition fees should be cut to £7,500 but graduates should be made to pay back more of their debts, an official review panel has said.
The Government-commissioned report claimed its recommendations would be fairer to both students and taxpayers, but critics have labelled them 'a con'.
The panel, chaired by banker Philip Augar, wants fees of £9,250 a year reduced by 19 per cent, and rates of interest cut.
However, it also proposes changes that include extending the repayment period from 30 to 40 years and reducing the threshold at which graduates must start to pay debts.
That could increase the overall cost for many, with those on lower incomes and nearing retirement still required to make payments.
A cut in fees could save future taxpayers money as students will ultimately borrow less.
Higher levels of repayment will also mean fewer debts are wiped and a smaller bill has to be picked up by the public purse.
The wide-ranging report also recommends not charging students interest above the rate of inflation while they are studying.
It also suggests capping the overall growth of the loan plus interest after university to 1.2 times the original loan.
There is also a proposal to help disadvantaged students by reintroducing maintenance grants, which were scrapped by George Osborne.
However, critics said the changes were 'regressive' because they ultimately help the highest earners, who will repay their debts in full, by reducing the initial amount they have to borrow.
Under the current system, graduates repay 9 per cent of their earnings over the salary threshold of £25,725 – and all debts are wiped after 30 years.
The report proposes reducing the threshold for repayment to £23,000 and extending the amount of time they must pay to 40 years.'
Read more: Tuition fees should be slashed by almost 20 per cent to £7,500 but only if students agree to keep repaying the cost of their degree until they RETIRE, review panel rules
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