Welsh higher education heads have fired a warning shot at the planning group for a single quality agency in protest at plans for a "closely directed" quality regime.
In their response to the group's interim report last month, the Heads of Higher Education Wales have raised concerns about proposed levels of external assessment, the composition of the new agency and what they see as a failure to cut back on bureaucracy.
They say the proposals are no advance on quality arrangements already in place. They have also warned that unless there are significant changes they may press for Welsh institutions and the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales to withdraw from the single agency talks.
Welsh funding council chiefs have said they would have to reconsider their involvement in the agency if institutions proved to be strongly opposed to the planning group's recommendations.
Keith Robbins, vice chancellor of the University of Wales, Lampeter, and chairman of HHEW, said: "As the proposals stand they do not represent a forward step."
Welsh heads are disappointed by the lukewarm treatment of their calls for a system that takes into account institutions' missions and the "maturity" of their quality assurance arrangements in external assessments.
HHEW members have also raised concerns about the proposed constitution of the new agency board, which allows for an equal number of institutional and funding council representatives.