Bath Spa University is to invite its senior management to volunteer for redundancy ahead of other staff in a cost-cutting drive.
The vice-chancellor, Frank Morgan, told staff in a memo that the university would be inviting "a number of senior managers, then other managers, and then some staff" to apply for voluntary early retirement or voluntary redundancy.
He warned that the university was facing a £4.6 million deficit by 2012 because of reduced interest on savings, a higher-than-anticipated pay award last October, increased pension costs, growing estate costs and a cut in funding for teacher training.
He said £400,000 had already been saved by freezing or "deleting" vacancies. "We now look to achieve savings through structural changes - by reducing, merging or closing some of our activities, aiming to save £1 million per year while continuing to maintain planned income levels," he said. "These cumulative savings will be implemented over two years, and at the same time we plan to save a further £1 million through reductions in non-pay budgets."
The restructuring would take place after invitations to take voluntary severance had been issued, he said. The remaining savings would be achieved by 2012-13 through natural wastage. "To achieve this we will need managers and staff to be flexible and adaptable in carrying out their jobs," the vice-chancellor added.
Student-to-staff ratios are likely to increase as a result of the changes.
Greg Garrard and Jo Dahn, co-chairs of the University and College Union at Bath Spa, said: "We are not convinced that the financial outlook - for an institution regarded by the vice-chancellor as 'robust' - warrants the drastic action being considered. We are deeply concerned about the substantially increased workload it promises, the impact upon the student experience and the health and wellbeing of academic staff. Moreover, we are determined to protect our members' jobs, by industrial action if necessary."