Aspiring members of the Institute for Learning and Teaching are having applications returned with a request for an extra £10 and more information despite beating the deadline before the introduction of tougher entry rules.
The ILT has emailed applicants who returned forms but not references by the July 31 deadline to tell them that they will be considered only under a new, more complicated and costlier entry route.
Even those applicants whose references arrived only days after their application forms were told to supply more evidence.
Claire Gora of the ILT's accreditation department wrote in the email:
"Unfortunately, we can only accept complete applications through the Initial Entry Route for Experienced Staff before the deadline.
"Any applications that remain incomplete after July 31 will require applicants to complete an additional area of professional activity."
Applicants have accused the ILT of operating double standards because it is not meeting its own performance targets. Because of the volume of paperwork the institute has been getting, it has been unable to acknowledge applications received within two weeks or to process the applications within ten weeks.
One medical tutor said: "The ILT seems incapable of meeting its own deadlines, yet has no hesitation in hammering applicants who, it alleges, do not meet theirs. It should be more customer-friendly."
"Many of us got an ulcer trying to fill in applications by the end of July, but we could not get our references. The referees were away.
"The ILT's strategy appears to be to get as many folk as possible to invest large amounts of time and effort completing their very extensive application booklet, only then to bounce the application back."
The ILT drafted in extra office staff to cope with a record 3,000 applications received the week before the deadline. It also appointed 12 extra accreditors to help deal with the surge, but it still has vacancies.
An ILT spokeswoman pointed out that the deadline was advertised extensively and said it was clear that it referred to completed applications.
She said: "We have got to be fair to all those people who got a completed application in on time. Would an academic extend deadline when dealing with students?"
The new membership route requires more evidence of how applicants draw on their subject research and professional activities to aid learning and teaching.
Lecturers are also eligible for membership by completing one of 125 ILT-accredited programmes at 105 higher education institutions.