Universities are more concerned about their reputation for research than they are about teaching students, a damning report has found.
The Institute of Economic Affairs warned institutions are spending too much time focusing on research "to the detriment of students".
The news comes after George Osborne announced some universities would not have to cap their tuition fees at £9,000.
The IEA think tank, published the report on Thursday, and hit out at the research excellence framework (REF), which assesses the research of universities and influences funding allocations.
"The REF uses significant resources and distorts resource allocation within the higher education sector away from teaching and towards the particular type of research encouraged by the REF," the report read.
"Academics focus on 'salami slicing' research to obtain key journal articles within the submission period, rather than longer books and reports, and has led to key staff cutting back on bread-and-butter undergraduate teaching."
The Abolishing the higher education Research Excellence Framework report also warned universities were focusing on research for marketing purposes, which only served to promote "the vanity of a handful of staff".
"The current system leads far too many academics to focus on research as a substitute for teaching, to the detriment of students," the report added.
Earlier this week, Jo Johnson, minister for universities, said he would introduce a teaching excellence framework to assess how well universities taught their students.
"My priority will be to make sure students get the teaching they deserve and employers get graduates with the skills they need," he said.