The Tertiary Education Union says a plan to shorten the time it takes to receive a master's degree is putting money ahead of education.
Universities want to offer master's degrees that require about 18 months to complete instead of the current norm of two years.
The Qualifications Authority is consulting on the proposal and says a key reason for it is to make New Zealand more competitive internationally.
Other countries already offer master's degrees shorter than two years, but in New Zealand they are restricted to people who have completed four years of bachelor's degree study.
Education New Zealand says changing that will help attract thousands of international students.
But the Tertiary Education Union says that is not the right reason to make the change and two-year master's degrees are valuable for New Zealand because they involve research.