Universities have hit out at the government's new HSC benchmarks for teachers, claiming it is an attack on their independence and a poor measure of the future success of a teacher.
As part of reforms designed to improve the quality of teaching in NSW, the O'Farrell government on Thursday announced school leavers hoping to become teachers would have to achieve at least three Band 5, or results over 80 per cent, in at least three subjects, including English.
Only 28 per cent of all of last year's HSC students would meet that standard, according to the NSW Board of Studies.
''Universities are autonomous, self-governing institutions,'' Universities Australia chief executive Belinda Robinson said. ''This action significantly and seriously undermines the independence of universities.''
Ms Robinson said it was probable that many universities, particularly those in regional areas, would see a drop in enrolments as a result. She called into question a claim made by Premier Barry O'Farrell on Wednesday that raising the standards would encourage more people into the profession.
''The way to lift prestige would be to really address the serious issue of remuneration,'' she said.
The government blueprint flagged the possibility of a new pay structure to recognise teachers who achieve accreditation in more senior roles, now known as ''Highly Accomplished'' or ''Lead Teachers''. The most a classroom teacher in NSW can earn now is $90,000 a year, according to the NSW Teachers Federation.
Several university leaders expressed concern that the new benchmarks could contradict agreed standards.
In 2011 state and federal education ministers agreed that all ''applicants' levels of personal literacy and numeracy should be broadly equivalent to those of the top 30 per cent of the population'' but it has not yet been determined how that standard would be achieved.
But Edmund Mission, general manager at the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership, said the NSW benchmarks were consistent with that plan. ''It sounds to me like it lines up pretty well,'' he said.