The new diplomas being introduced as a rival to A levels have been given a cautious welcome by the 1994 Group of smaller, research-intensive universities.
But, in a report published this week, the group expresses significant reservations about the content of the diplomas, the first tranche of which will be offered to school pupils in September.
The report, based on a survey of admissions tutors, reveals that 48 per cent of tutors are "very likely" to accept applicants with diplomas where there is a clear link to degree-course content, but 36 per cent said they would be "not at all likely" to admit such candidates.
The report has found that almost all the group's 19 member universities are starting to look actively at the prospect of admitting diploma-based applicants, and thus the Government's aim of establishing the qualification as a serious university entry qualification is on track.
Many senior academics, however, have serious reservations about the content of the new qualification. Pro vice-chancellors who responded were concerned that diploma students' knowledge and analytical skills would not be on a par with that of A-level counterparts.
One element of the diplomas that has been broadly welcomed is the Extended Project. Some 72 per cent of admissions tutors felt that this would be a positive attribute when selecting students.
In his foreword to the report, Steve Smith, vice-chancellor of the University of Exeter, writes: "How prepared, though, are universities for this potential revolution in the school curriculum?
"The answer is variable. The level of involvement of higher education in the early-stage development of the diplomas was less than desirable."