Scotland's two leading higher education unions have clashed over the future of pay bargaining after devolution.
Delegates from the two unions attended a "People's Assembly on Education", called by the Scottish National Party to inform its education policy-making in the run-up to the new Scottish Parliament.
Ian McKay, assistant secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland, said the parliament offered the chance of Scotland-wide pay negotiations, with all institutions joining the bargaining arrangements in place for Scotland's new universities.
But he claimed that the Association of University Teachers had the "strange policy" of shifting the new universities into a United Kingdom bargaining system.
David Bleiman, AUT assistant general secretary, said it was a sensitive time as the review committee investigating pay and conditions across the UK had not completed its work.
However, AUT Scotland believes that there should be a UK-wide approach to pay bargaining to safeguard job opportunities as Scottish pay and conditions for academic and related staff would have to be competitive.
Mr Bleiman said: "The review committee will report at an extremely interesting time, possibly just before the Scottish election campaign gets into full swing. The AUTS will certainly look at what it recommends and look at the political context.
But Mr McKay said later: "I am surprised that the AUT feels that the current Scottish system of pay bargaining in the new universities is not sufficient to attract the quality of teaching staff we want for our Scottish education system in the future."
The EIS was very happy with the standard of academic staff in institutions such as Napier and Paisley universities, Mr McKay said. "We feel that rather than be an adjunct to a UK system, Scottish pay bargaining should be a matter for the Scottish parliament, to allow us to continue to attract high-quality personnel to our 'jewel in the crown'."
Nicola Surgeon, the SNP's education spokesperson, said the party wants an education committee with a tertiary sub-committee.
4 newsThe Times HigherJdecember 11J1998 Neil turner