Manchester Metropolitan University has backed down over plans to introduce what lecturers' union Natfhe termed "burger bar"-style contracts for part-time and hourly paid staff.
The union is hailing the move as a major victory in its battle against casualisation of the higher education workforce. Lecturers had threatened industrial action if the contract went ahead.
MMU planned to introduce "zero hours" contracts, which were described as permanent but would, in fact, allow the university to "flex or vary" the hours worked.
Andy Pike of Natfhe said: "Provided the employer gave one month's notice the university would be able to remove all the contracted hours of 650 academics with no obligation to pay redundancy, the ultimate flexible employment practice." The university confirmed the contract had been abandoned and talks on a new one would start next month.
Pete Gibbs, employee relations manager, said over 350 of the 640 associate lecturers the contract was aimed at had signed up. "We are in the process of writing to them saying they can either discard the contract and wait for the new one, or continue with it."