The Association of University Teachers Scotland plans a broad campaign in defence of the four-year honours degree, which it fears is threatened by the proposed changes in student support.
Delegates at the AUT's Scottish council at Aberdeen University unanimously backed a call for talks with political, union and religious leaders with the aim of backing the current degree system.
Ken Fraser of St Andrews University said the threat was exemplified by Scottish education minister Brian Wilson's call for increased entry into second year without providing any educational justification. This could threaten disciplines that are not studied at school and so require study at first-year level, delegates warned.
They also said that reducing course time would not help address employers' complaints about graduates' lack of transferable skills and was out of step with continental Europe.
The delegates praised the Scottish Office decision to ensure that Scottish students will not pay higher tuition fees for a longer Scottish degree than for an equivalent qualification south of the border. But they condemned the Department for Education and Employment and the Department of Education for Northern Ireland for not matching this concession.
Angela Roger, vice-president of AUTS, said: "This policy is anomalous and frankly discriminatory."