By politics.co.uk staff
Business secretary Vince Cable encouraged colleges to mount a legal challenge against the government, it has emerged.
The senior Liberal Democrat denied suggesting a judicial review should take place against the coalition's immigration cap plans, however.
But the legal bid to overturn the government's controversial immigration policies was launched soon after Mr Cable met with a constituent representing the Association of UK Private Schools and Colleges, the Sunday Times reported.
It quoted Alfred the Great college's academic principal Neil Mackay as saying that MR Cable had advised his college to go ahead with a judicial review.
Mr Cable told the newspaper that "they do have potential for legal action", before adding: "I am very concerned, both as a constituency MP and as business secretary, that obstacles are being placed in the way of good business that undoubtedly benefit the British economy."
News of the business secretary's latest intervention comes just two days after he called David Cameron's speech on immigration "very unwise" and said his remarks risked inflaming extremism.
They met with a rebuttal from the prime minister, who insisted the coalition's bid to reduce net migration from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands was "Liberal Democrat policy".
Labour's shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said the coalition government was in "utter chaos" and that collective Cabinet responsibility had fundamentally collapsed.
"Immigration policy is too important to be left in such chaos," she commented.
"We need an honest debate about immigration, with strong, workable controls for the sake of local communities and the economy. Instead we have incompetence and disarray while the prime minister is not being straight with people about what his government is doing."