It is certain to involve millions being sunk into new projects for children from less well-off backgrounds. Ministers are looking at the idea of recruiting full-time ambassadors to take more pupils from less well-off backgrounds into top universities. They have been impressed by the set-up at Harvard, where 50 recruitment officers are employed.
Mr Brown's move is seen as the culmination of a long campaign to get equal educational opportunities firmly on the Labour agenda. He first referred to the issue of top universities' lack of openness at the party conference three years ago.
It is understood that the entry statistics of the top universities have shocked ministers into action. They show that under 10% of children are educated privately, and while 30% of those making the grades for the top universities are from that sector they eventually take up 50% of the places.
The figures for the cash injection are yet to be finalised, but are likely to run into hundreds of millions. It would be channelled towards more scholarships and encouraging more links between the top universities and the state school network.