There is growing concern within Glasgow University over the creation of a post for Florence Davies, the wife of Graeme Davies, chief executive of the Higher Education Funding Council for England, who takes over as Glasgow's principal next session.
Mrs Davies, currently a lecturer with responsibility for research development in Bristol University's school of education, has been offered a part-time senior research fellowship in Glasgow's department of English language, which she is expected to take up in October.
Bristol said it would be very sorry to lose her because of the quality of her research.
The post is understood to have been created on the authority of the current principal, Sir William Fraser. A university spokesman said that Professor Davies had not made his acceptance of the principalship conditional on the offer of an appointment to Mrs Davies.
But Sir William said this week: "I take the view that it would be unreasonable to expect Mrs Davies to abandon her research career when Professor Davies takes up his appointment in Glasgow."
Bill Stewart, president of Glasgow's Association of University Teachers, said the union was due to discuss the issue with Sir William this week.
Full details of the post were not yet known, he said, but the appointment appeared unacceptable in that normal recruitment and selection procedures had not been followed.
An Edinburgh University inquiry last year dismissed allegations that a part-time post in medical microbiology was improperly created for Sheena Sutherland, wife of the new university principal, Sir Stewart Sutherland.
University secretary Martin Lowe said Edinburgh was prepared to try to help the partners of people it wished to appoint, but not if this meant creating unnecessary posts, or entertaining applications for jobs which were not publicly advertised.
A Bristol spokesman said that Mrs Davies, whose main research interest is in applied linguistics, had just published a book with Penguin, Introducing Reading. "She is leading a research project into reading for management and we hope she will find some way of continuing to associate herself with that," he said.