The University of Bristol has warned that it may have to make staff redundant despite making a £6.1 million surplus in the past financial year.
In a letter to staff this month, Eric Thomas, the vice-chancellor, says the surplus, which represents less than 2 per cent of turnover, "could easily be eroded" and was £10 million short of the university's surplus target for next year. At the same time, annual increases in the university's income "will rise by much less than the 10 per cent we are used to," he writes.
As well as setting up early retirement and voluntary redundancy schemes, the university will help staff move to part-time employment, reduce their hours or take career breaks. Numbers of academic programmes on offer may be "rationalised" and a review of administrative processes is under way.
The University and College Union said the plans suggested that Bristol believed "cuts in public funding are inevitable or acceptable".
The University of Hertfordshire has announced plans to restructure after it made its first deficit in 15 years.
Redundancies are planned, although numbers are not yet known. The faculty for the creative and cultural industries and the faculty of engineering and information sciences are to merge to form the faculty of technology and creative industries.
The restructuring will include "redistribution of the activities of the faculty of interdisciplinary studies and the School of Health, Social and Community Studies", Tim Wilson, the vice-chancellor said. "Some redundancies will be required," he added.
The university has announced a 30-day consultation period, which means more than 20 redundancies but less than 100 are likely. On 31 July 2008, the university declared its first deficit (£266,000) since 1992.
A University and College Union spokesman said that compulsory redundancies would be opposed. "We have yet to be convinced of the rationale behind the proposals."
Eight senior academics could be made redundant at the University of Lincoln.
According to the latest available accounts, the university recorded a surplus of £1.8 million in the 12 months to 31 July 2008, down from £2.6 million the previous year.
John Simons, head of the college of deans at Lincoln, said: "To make cost-efficiency savings, the university has decided to consult staff on proposals to make eight senior academics redundant." He hoped to avoid compulsory departures.