Southampton Institute is seeking redundancies just days after director David Leyland, publicly assured staff that their jobs were safe.
The U-turn comes as the institute's Natfhe branch released a survey indicating six out of ten staff had low morale and 95 per cent rated management style poor.
Natfhe's southern regional office is calling for the process of shedding 12.5 posts to be stalled, claiming it was not consulted before staff received letters asking if they wanted to retire early or volunteer for redundancy.
A vote of no confidence in the director was passed at the recent Natfhe annual general meeting.
Institute spokeswoman Julie Ballard said: "We review staffing levels on a regular basis. There will be redundancies and we are hoping for people to take early retirement or voluntary redundancy, but we are also planning on 50 new staff in September."
Ms Ballard played down the scope of the no confidence vote.
"It is only 60 staff who have passed the vote out of 1,000 here," she said.
She said the institute would now conduct its own staff survey and act on the results.
"We are a caring employer and we work hard to ensure our staff do not experience undue stress."
In the Natfhe survey, 60 per cent of the 159 respondents said their health had been adversely affected "by their institute experiences".
It follows a questionnaire last year, which was not made public, suggesting three-quarters of staff had low morale.
A union spokesman said details of this year's survey were made public because no action was taken after the first one. He said views on morale were sought before employees knew of the job losses.