Vice-chancellors have called for the early introduction of electronic student transcripts covering all of a sixth-former's achievements to help universities choose between the best-qualified school and college leavers.
But they warn that proposals to allow schools and colleges to fast-track high-flyers into higher education through a proposed new diploma system could run into legal and quality assurance problems.
Universities UK says an electronic transcript would be an "essential" part of the diploma proposed by the Tomlinson review of 14-19 education.
In its responses to the review group's interim report, UUK argues that the higher education sector should be involved in developing the transcript, including which data would be useful, how they should be presented, and when the transcript should be available.
Vice-chancellors believe the transcripts could be vital in selection and they want them to be introduced as quickly as possible.
It could be eight years before the proposed overarching diplomas are implemented, but UUK says the transcripts and other components that would help universities sift through the growing number of candidates holding A-grade A levels are needed urgently.
Further education college heads, however, have warned that universities should not be allowed to dictate the development of transcripts.
The Association of Colleges, in its response to the review, says it is worried that transcripts "might become higher-education driven, with HE institutions specifying levels of achievement within a diploma".
Vice-chancellors and college heads share concerns about proposals to develop two types of diploma, a "specialist" and an "open" version. UUK questions the need for a specialist diploma, given the amount of detail that would be provided by transcripts.
The AoC warns that having two versions could cause confusion, create a hierarchy and "ensure the academic-vocational divide is revisited".
Vice-chancellors are concerned about plans to stretch the most able students by allowing parts of higher education courses to be taught in schools or colleges. This could "potentially raise issues of quality assurance for institutions and questions about the nature of the higher education experience".
Proposals to allow diploma students to progress according to their ability rather than age could mean that relatively young school pupils qualify for entry to higher education.
UUK says that this could raise issues for institutions with regard to legal responsibility, child protection and "duty of care", as well as questions about legislation that covers student union bars.