Peter Mandelson has arrogantly sidelined students in favour of business tsars when he appointed corporate fat cats to conduct a review into university fees.
The overhaul of higher education funding began on Monday with the appointment of former chief executive of oil giant BP Lord Browne of Madingley as chairman of the review.
He will be joined by former Blair adviser Sir Michael Barber, businessman Peter Sands, two university vice-chancellors and former chairman of the British Youth Council Rajay Naik.
The National Union of Students (NUS) fears that the review will further marketise education and pave the way for a rise in tuition fees - potentially lumbering students with an annual bill of Â£7,000.
NUS president Wes Streeting said that students' voice must not be "sidetracked by business and university interests."
He warned: "There is a real danger that this review will pave the way for higher fees and a market in prices which would see poorer students priced out of more prestigious universities and consigned to the 'bargain basement.'
"Members of the review should be in no doubt about the level of student anger about the extent of our indebtedness and the marketisation of our education," he said.
The review will not be completed until August 2010 - after the next general election.
A poll released at the weekend suggested that 71 per cent of the public think that students should be represented on the review committee.
The same poll revealed that the majority of the British public would prefer abolishing top-up fees completely.
Yesterday Universities Secretary Lord Mandelson claimed that current and potential students would be consulted on any changes.
Defying public opinion, Lord Mandelson said: "Variable tuition fees provide institutions with a secure income stream worth Â£1.3bn, helping to sustain the viability of the sector."
The last time fees rose in 2004 it sparked a student backlash and many pro-fee MPs lost their seats, sending shockwaves through the Blair government.
Mr Streeting said: "There will be an even greater backlash if the review proposes plunging students into greater debt."
Lord Browne's career has been embroiled in controversy. In 2007, his firm was linked to the deaths of 15 workers at an oil refinery in Texas.
He later resigned from BP after he admitted lying in court about his private life amid allegations he had used the firm's finances improperly.
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