Seventeen nurse lecturers at Greenwich University will lose their jobs following the renegotiation of nurse-education contracts.
A one-third cut to the value of the contract between the university and health purchaser, the South East London Education Consortium, which buys nurse-training places from the university, represents a loss of 17 full-time academic posts at the school of health by the end of the academic year. Three support staff are also expected to be lost.
Six academic staff are expected to go before February.
This is the first time the university and consortium have renegotiated contracts and the cut in the school of health's budget takes it from Pounds 3.8 million this year to Pounds 3 million in the next academic year. The university will train the same number of students but at a reduced per-student cost.
A spokesman for the university said: "Rather than lose the contract we have accepted a substantial cut based on new bench-marked prices for the education of nurses and midwives established by the NHS executive."
She added that the new price brought the university in line with other nurse-education providers.
Mark Rees, chair of the South East London Education Consortium, said the current contract was "not considered to be sufficient value for money".
He added: "The consortium therefore sought efficiency gain from the University of Greenwich in order to bring its contract prices into line with national average levels. The intention was not, and is not, to reduce nurse training places, nor to compromise educational standards."
But this week, Greenwich's branch of Natfhe, the college lecturers' union, reacted angrily, accusing the university of "a lack of foresight and inability to plan for the future", claiming the cuts meant a reduction in quality.
In a letter to health minister Frank Dobson and education minister David Blunkett, the union said it was "appalled" by the decision.
According to a university spokeswoman, the cuts mean that the nursing curriculum will, in future, be delivered differently. She added that voluntary redundancies would be sought.