Students, politicians and representatives have accused the SNP of "storing up problems" after the government cut funding for teacher training courses.
The University of Edinburgh last week announced plans to radically reduce places offered on teacher training courses at Moray House School of Education.
The cuts, introduced by the Scottish government on university education courses across Scotland, may result in up to 40 staff redundancies.
The decision led to demonstrations by teachers and students outside the Scottish Parliament last Wednesday.
The heaviest cuts are to places in the Primary Postgraduate Diploma in Education, which will fall from 280 to 66, mirroring a national reduction from 1350 to 400 places.
The news coincides with reports of the university's wider plan to cut total undergraduate intake by almost a third. This stands in contrast to the official announcement of the institution, which indicates total undergraduate numbers will be cut by less than four percent.
A Scottish government spokesperson defended the funding cuts saying that the decision was taken to "reduce student teacher intakes to deal with teacher unemployment" in order to "create more jobs for those teachers already qualified".
However, shadow education secretary Claire Baker attacked the decision as damaging: “By reducing the number of places available for teacher education at universities you are storing up problems for the future.
"We need young energetic, committed and talented young teachers to inspire and deliver a quality education to future generations.
"This demonstration shows just how strongly students, teachers, lecturers and others in the sector feel about the SNP's cuts to teacher education in the budget and cuts to places on teacher training courses.”
The reductions stand in contrast to the Scottish National Party’s previous pledges to reduce class sizes. Average primary class sizes only fell from 23.3 to 23.2 from 2007 to 2008.
A university spokesperson played down the magnitude of wider cuts to the undergraduate population when speaking to The Journal, saying that “data can be interpreted and presented in a variety of ways and in different contexts".
The university reasoned that “continued growth in applications and unprecedented increase in the uptake of offers in the last two years” has resulted in unexpectedly high intakes.
Additionally, it was “necessary for the university to address this and bring the total student population back within planned numbers as part of our commitment to the quality of the student experience”.
The university has also highlighted the possibility of future financial penalties imposed by the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) on institutions with student populations that dramatically exceed funded places.
Whilst Edinburgh currently does not face such fines, they would do so in subsequent years were admission restrictions not introduced.
Thomas Graham, president of the Edinburgh University Students' Association told The Journal: “It is the right thing to do, the university is not funded to teach additional students...they are teaching 19,000 [students] with funds for 18,000.
“There’s a thousand students for which [the university] receives no money to teach."
Despite the increase in funding awarded to Edinburgh University by the SFC of more than five percent on last year’s allocation, Mr Graham was clear with regard to culpability for the cuts: “It is not the university’s fault. The government has failed to provide sufficient university funding... the blame lies firmly with them.”
The move will affect domestic student applicants most; despite the cap on undergraduate numbers, the trend of increased international admissions is expected to continue.
There is no limit to the tuition fees that Edinburgh may charge to students from outside the EU. Average tuition fees for international students are over six times those of domestic undergraduates, and are a vital revenue stream for the university.
Edinburgh is amongst a number of universities across the UK that are implementing similar measures to curb their student populations.
Institutions in England have been forced to cut numbers following the £915 million cut on higher education funding announced by Business Innovation and Skill Secretary, Lord Mandelson.
The decrease in the number of university places across the UK and the significant rise in applications are expected to result in higher admission requirements for those places offered for this September.
The news comes whilst student applications and admissions soar across the UK. The university admissions service, UCAS, released figures last year showing that the number of students starting degrees in 2009 was 20,000 higher than those who started in 2008.
Applications to university rose overall by 50,000, implying a significant increase in the number of students rejected.