No decision has been made about whether to charge EU students more to study at English universities after Brexit, the government has insisted. They currently pay the same as those from the UK, but it has been reported fees could rise from 2021.
Labour's Angela Rayner accused the government of "building walls" between top British universities and the EU.Lib Dem Tom Brake warned the EU would likely reciprocate, meaning only the richest from the UK could study abroad.
Buzzfeed reported on Saturday that Education Secretary Damian Hinds is proposing to remove so-callled "home fee status" and financial support from EU citizens as of the start of the academic year in 2021.
Tuition fees for international students vary, with undergraduates paying between £10,000 and £38,000 per year.
During an urgent question in the Commons from shadow education secretary Ms Rayner, Education Minister Chris Skidmore did not rule out a fees rise, but said a decision had not yet been taken.
Discussions, he said, were "ongoing and should remain confidential"- the leak to Buzzfeed was "deeply regrettable".
The minister said the government had guaranteed "lifetime funding" for joint education projects between the EU and the UK - such as Erasmus and Horizon - because it recognised the "vitally important contribution" of EU students and staff to the UK's university sector.
However, he said the government wanted to ensure that "we, as a country and as a nation, are attractive internationally" as a destination for study, not just to the EU. Earlier this year, Mr Hinds promised EU students could still have home fee status if they were starting courses in 2019, and on Monday, he said a decision about 2020 would be made "shortly".
Ms Rayner said the government had "time and time again... undermined our universities by their shambolic handling of Brexit".