Northern Ireland's power-sharing executive has received a recommendation that university fees should increase to £5,700 a year.
Annual tuition fees are currently set at £3,000 but a report prepared for Employment and Learning Minister Danny Kennedy has recommended an increase.
Proposed changes in England's university fees are having an impact in Northern Ireland.
The coalition government at Westminster seems set to sanction a plan to allow tuition fees in England rise to up to £9,000 a year.
Consultant Joanne Stuart had previously recommended that fees remain at £3,000, but she has now revised her opinion in light of the proposed changes in England.
This would have significant impact on Northern Ireland's third level students and on the thousands from the Republic who travel north to study.
Ms Stuart said: I believe that these recommendations provide a fair and sustainable funding model for students, higher education institutions, government and taxpayers.'
Mr Kennedy said the report calculated that if the status quo were maintained it would leave a shortfall of £40m to £65m a year.
'I am committed to doing what I can to minimise the impact of any such fee increase on Northern Ireland families,' he said.