THE professor charged with creating a blueprint for student funding in Wales is outraged that the National Assembly could scupper her report two days before it is published.
For the last year and a half Prof Teresa Rees of Cardiff University has headed a commission looking into the controversial issues of top-up fees.
Her work may now be wasted with the Assembly holding a debate on higher education funding just days before her work is published.
She warns that she, and hundreds of other academics, would be reluctant to carry out work on behalf of the Assembly if decisions were then taken before the evidence had been prepared.
She is due to give her final findings on Thursday. But on Tuesday the Conservative Party will raise a motion "instructing the Welsh Assembly Government to not introduce top-up fees in Wales and to ensure that Higher Education Institutions are fully funded".
If the motion is passed it could scupper the entire Rees Review, although its findings are not yet known.
It will be the first time that Rhodri Morgan's government has been tested since it lost its majority after the expulsion of Peter Law from Labour. His decision to stand for Parliament as an independent candidate in a row over women-only shortlists has left Labour at the mercy of the opposition parties.
Prof Rees said she was appalled that the hard work that has gone into the report could be wasted. She was supported by the president of the National Union of Students in Wales which, although opposing top-up fees, is concerned other elements of the review will also be lost.
James Knight, NUS Wales president, said the report also looks into student funding and this too could be jeopardised by the Tory motion.
In an open letter to AMs, sent to the Western Mail, Prof Rees said, "It is with dismay and profound disappointment that I learn of the intention to hold a debate in the Assembly two days before the report is due to be launched, on a motion that the National Assembly for Wales 'instructs the Welsh Assembly Government to not introduce top-up fees in Wales and to ensure that Higher Education Institutions are fully funded.'
"I am deeply concerned that the intention is to have a debate and come to a decision on an extremely important set of issues, two days before a thorough review on the topic is published, one which draws upon an in-depth consultation with stakeholders, the experience of international best practice, and commissioned research.
"It seems our evidence based recommendations may not even be deemed worthy of consideration."
Prof Rees added, "I cannot imagine I, or any other of the hundreds of people in Wales who have sought to assist the Assembly in its deliberations by engaging with our review would ever feel motivated to do so again.
"Indeed, would anyone be motivated to engage with Assembly Task and Finish Groups or consultation exercises more generally, knowing their input may not even be looked at?"
Last night Prof Rees said, "The big question is how much will this cost the Assembly? We know it [funding higher education without top-up fees] will cost £40m in the first year and it goes up and up to a huge amount every year, so what public sector will they take it from?"
Mr Knight, of NUS Wales, said, "In calling for the Assembly to meet the financial needs of higher education institutions in Wales that excludes half of the remit of the Rees Commission which was to look at student funding.I wouldn't want to see universities properly funded to the detriment of students."
Nick Bourne, leader of the Conservatives in the Assembly, said the timing of the debate was a matter for the Government, who set the minority debate for Tuesday.
"We have already had the Rees Commission's interim report and I understand the final report has been gathering dust on the Minister's desk for some time," he said. "If I have upset Teresa Rees I am sorry, but my concern is much wider. It probably will embarrass the Government, but that is not our intention - the aim is to get properly funded higher education and to avoid top-up fees in Wales."
Jeff Cuthbert, Labour AM and member of the education committee, said, "The Tories have acted hastily by calling this debate in the Assembly and it is clear from their behaviour they are more interested in putting political games as a higher priority than finding the best solution possible for our students and universities."