Under the "access agreements," which universities wishing to charge more than £6,000 a year are required to draw up, fees must be cut for any student whose parents earn less than £25,000.
So far, despite ministers' claims that top fees would be levied only in "exceptional circumstances," 70 per cent of universities which have set out their intentions have said they will charge the maximum £9,000, with many of the rest levying close to the upper ceiling.
That means that in most cases, a youngster with parents earning only £26,000 a year will be required to pay around £3,000 more in fees to pay for the education of a fellow student from a family on £24,000.
John Denham, the shadow business secretary, said: "The Government has lost control of fees, with £9,000 becoming the norm, not the exception.
"On top of this incompetence, the Government is now trying to make students from middle income families pay to cut the fees of others.
"Progress on social mobility must be maintained, but the Government has chosen to put the burden unfairly on the shoulders of hard working squeezed middle families.
"Students do not pay until they graduate, but the Government is imposing a system where graduates with the same class of degree in the same subject from the same university doing the same job will owe very different debts."
New research suggests that half of students will be turned off top universities by the imposition of £9,000 tuition fees.
In a survey of current final year undergraduates, 51 per cent said they would not have enrolled if fees were almost three times higher than current prices.
Figures from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service show record numbers of students are applying for courses this year in order to beat the fee rise.
Applications are expected to be up by around 14,000 in the summer as students scrap gap years to get into university this autumn.
More than 700,000 are expected to apply with almost a third missing out on places.