UP to 40 academics are expected to leave Exeter University in an attempt by the university to balance its budget after a poor showing in the research assessment exercise.
The university needs to lose between 60 and 70 posts altogether to help meet Pounds 3.85 million worth of cuts by 2000.
It is hoping all savings will be made through voluntary redundancy and early retirement, although compulsory redundancies have not been ruled out.
The Association of University Teachers says it will ballot for industrial action should this happen. Exeter AUT representative Chris Taylor said: "These financial problems have been caused not by the research assessment exercise but by the lack of planning to cope with ups and downs."
University director of personnel Stephen Cooper said: "We are reserving our position on setting up a redundancy committee and will continue to do so until the university meets in March. If the information I am receiving at the moment is correct I think we should be able to avoid it.
"The main reason for our loss of HEFCE funding was our disappointing performance in the RAE but we get a lot more money through teaching than in research and it would be simplistic to say all our efforts are going into research."