A bonus of £150 is being offered to staff at the University of Central Lancashire - but only if the institution meets a number of performance targets that currently hang in the balance.
The cash is part of a staff award scheme and will be given out if Uclan hits nine of its 12 targets for the academic year.
In a memo, vice-chancellor Malcolm McVicar said the institution was already on course to hit seven of the targets, including those for retention, diversity and the research assessment exercise. But the remainder are still in the balance.
Dr McVicar told staff that the university had not achieved its international or National Health Service targets for student recruitment in 2007-08.
In order to hit its performance target for the year, 24 per cent of applicants for 2008-09 must now be persuaded to select Uclan as their first-choice destination.
Another objective that is still up in the air relates to the university's reputation and is based on its position in a league table to be published later this year.
The remaining targets are for budget compliance, and for "customer care", linked to the results of the National Student Survey.
If nine of these goals are achieved, Uclan staff covered by the award scheme will receive a bonus of either 0.5 per cent of their salary or £150, whichever is greater.
Dr McVicar said he "really wants" to make the payments, but the incentive scheme was met with derision by one academic, who said it was a "slap in the face for overworked and underpaid staff".