Labour peers have sought to throw out the Government’s plan to raise the tuition fees cap to £9,000.
Amendments to the proposal in the Lords would overturn last week’s vote by MPs, forcing the Government to reintroduce the measure in the Commons if it decided to go ahead with the policy.
Last Thursday, MPs voted 323 votes to 302, a majority of 21, in favour of the plan, despite vocal opposition from some Liberal Democrats and a handful of Conservatives.
The vote followed a fractious five-hour debate and took place as student protesters clashed with police in the streets outside Parliament.
Opening the Lords debate in a packed chamber, Government spokesman Lord Henley said Labour’s two amendments would be “fatal”.
He told peers: “There is absolutely no mechanism for the Commons to address or put right a defeat in these circumstances and accepting one or both of the noble Lord’s amendments would therefore be, in practice, a veto.
“There is no ping-pong in this case.”
Labour spokesman Lord Triesman accused the Government of attempting to drive through the “privatisation” of universities.
He said: “This afternoon’s decision will switch the concept of universities from being a public good, as they have always been through modern history, to essentially a private sector, market-driven by personal private investment.”
He added: “Stripped back to the realities, this is a 200% starting fee hike and, for most, it will be a 300% increase.”