Lecturers at the University of Lincolnshire and Humberside may give up their seats at this year's graduation ceremonies in protest against the university's decision to charge guests Pounds 10 a head.
The lecturers plan to offer their places to parents who cannot afford the charge.
Lecturers' union Natfhe said the charge was "a disgrace that would ruin what should be a great day, when students and their parents could celebrate the fruits of years of hard work".
A spokesperson said: "We would like to boycott the event totally to show our disgust. But we know from past experience that management would consider this to be industrial action and take the most punitive action possible."
The row is the latest in a series of disputes about staffing levels and working conditions linked to investment in two new campuses in Lincoln and Hull. The union has passed votes of no confidence in vice-chancellor Roger King, who takes early retirement next year.
Deputy vice-principal Keith Bardon said the Pounds 10 charge was below the average charged by other universities and would be spent on refreshments at the graduations.
"In line with many other universities, the University of Lincolnshire and Humberside asks guests of students to make a contribution to the overall cost of putting on its ten graduation ceremonies each year. This occurred last year and did not cause great difficulty.
"The university has established a hardship fund for students to draw upon if they find themselves having difficulties in buying tickets for their guests," said Professor Bardon.