Up to 60 academics may face the axe at a London college in an attempt to boost ratings in the research assessment exercise.
Queen Mary and Westfield College is discussing offering voluntary redundancy of two years' salary to about 30 medical and dentistry academics and between 20 and 30 staff in other subjects.
Staff not eligible for submission to the next research assessment exercise will be targeted.
Details of the changes were revealed at a heads of department meeting shortly before Christmas. A minute of the meeting reveals more than Pounds 900,000 is being spent on advertisements to appear this month for about 21 non-medical posts.
The changes follow a statistical analysis about which courses are proving most popular with students, as well as which are most lucrative in terms of research.
As a result, natural sciences, maths and informatics and engineering are to reduce target intake for taught-course students by 50, while arts, social sciences and laws will increase by 90.
Derek Jones, branch officer for the Association of University Teachers, said: "It is thought that if we make the transition from a 3 institution to a 4 in terms of the RAE, that will generate more millions of additional income than the expenditure required to bring about change in the interim.
But it takes no account of human beings and their position."
College principal Adrian Smith said: "There was discussion about the possibility of putting forward some kind of voluntary severance offer but that has not been done yet."
He said the position was likely to be clearer in the next two or three weeks.
Further meetings were taking place as The THES went to press.
Engineering to go, page 4.