The best A-level candidates could be tempted with beneficial deals on tuition fees from middle-ranking universities in 2012. Universities in the UK face increased pressure to maintain the same number of students as now.
Sir Steve Smith, president of the vice-chancellors' umbrella group Universities UK, considers that the highest-performing students will be "gold dust" in next year. He said universities that attract few high-achieving students now would have to make difficult decisions.
He said: "They are going to have to work out if they start 'buying' AAB students. One of the implications is that those students become like gold dust for their reputation. So you might have an incredibly strong series of incentives."
Due to the proposed reforms by the government, institutions will be able to take on unlimited numbers of students who with AAB or higher at A-level, thus making extra places for middle-ranking universities that are going to charge an average fee of £7,500.
The reforms will reduce the number of middle-ranking universities that charge high tuition fees. Some of their applicants with the best grades are likely to be lured by top institutions. Some universities are planning to reduce their fees in response to get extra places.
Possible cheaper deals for the best-achieving students was criticized by Gareth Thomas: "If vital money to help those from less well-off backgrounds is instead being used by universities as a marketing gimmick because they are worried about a drop in student places, this is yet another sign that the government didn't think through their plans in the white paper or the trebling of tuition fees."