The Association of University Teachers launched its plans for a rival to the Institute for Learning and Teaching this week.
The AUT has already withdrawn support from the institute, which it said is over-bureaucratic and too expensive. It hopes to replace it with its own body for professional accreditation.
The institute immediately attacked the AUT, saying its ambitions had little to do with improving standards in learning and teaching and were focused on increasing its bargaining power.
Rival lecturers' union Natfhe said that the sector should support the ILT.
This week, the AUT published a preliminary paper, to be discussed at next month's annual conference. It outlines the principles of a voluntary self-regulation scheme to be agreed by AUT members over the next year. It says the initiative must be underpinned by general improvements in staff development and training and should be flexible enough for all teaching staff. It also says there must be equality of access and that accredited status should not initially be an entry requirement.
AUT members have complained that the sector needs "a more streamlined accreditation procedure" and a cheaper membership process. It also wants to explore plans for group membership for departments that successfully meet external quality-assurance demands.
The AUT said the ILT had "a serious PR problem" and an "extremely patchy" profile.
The union has also argued that enhancing its professional role will increase its influence, which will benefit members' pay packets. The AUT plans to publish a "professional manifesto" by January 2002, at the same time as campaigning for improved provision for staff training and development. After consultation it hopes to launch a fully functioning system by October next year.
Paul Clark, ILT chief executive, said that the institute's survey of 5,000 lecturers, which included some ILT members, revealed wide support, with 69 per cent of respondents believing the ILT will become a critical element in the development of the profession and more than 70 per cent believing it will improve standards. He said that 95 per cent of ILT's members intended to renew their subscriptions.
"The ILT scheme is acceptable to and owned by its members, non-bureaucratic and credible to the outside world," he said.