The number of state-educated students going to university and colleges fell by four percentage points in the first year tuition fees were increased to £9,000 for all new undergraduates, new statistics show.
The drop from 66% to 62% between the 2012/2013 and 2013/2014 academic years was part of a nine percentage point drop in state school pupils carrying on into higher education since 2009/2010, Department for Education figures revealed.
The figures, released on Wednesday, relate to English institutions only, where students pay £27,000 for a three-year-degree course under controversial increases brought in by the then Coalition government in 2012/2013.
The report, Widening Participation in Higher Education: 2016, noted: "The 2013/14 cohort was the first cohort where all students were affected by the change in tuition fees in 2012/13."
The figures were released days after the Government scrapped maintenance grants for students from poor backgrounds in England, replacing the payments of around £3,500 with additional loans which will have to be paid back at the end of an undergraduate course, once graduates are earning more than £21,000.
Universities Minister Jo Johnson said: "We are seeing record numbers of disadvantaged young people going to university and benefiting from the real opportunities that our world- class universities can offer.
"But, with a gap still persisting depending on a student's background, there is still more work to do to build a society that works for everyone.
"Everyone in our country should be allowed to rise as far as their talents will take them, whoever they are and wherever they're from. We will not rest until every young person in our country has the chance to fulfil their promise."
Tuition fees were introduced by Tony Blair's government to come into force at the start of the 1998 academic year. This £1,000 annual payment rose to £3,000 under legislation introduced in 2004 and came into effect for students starting in 2006.
This was increased to £9,000 in 2010, a move which sparked student protests and is credited with contributing to the Lib Dems' electoral meltdown at the 2015 general election, as the party went into the coalition saying it would not increase the fees.
Wednesday's report added: "An estimated 62% of those who studied A-level and equivalent qualifications in state schools and colleges at age 17 in 2011/12 progressed to higher education by age 19 in 2013/14. For independent school and college pupils the estimated progression rate was 85%.
"The gap between these progression rates has risen from 16 percentage points for the 2010/11 cohort to 23 percentage points for the 2013/14 cohort."