Data released by the Higher Education Statistics Agency show that the number of junior administrative staff such as secretaries and housekeeping staff, including cleaners, catering assistants and maintenance workers, have been hardest hit by the downturn.
The data show that there has been a drop of 14 per cent in the number of junior administrative staff between 2008-09 and 2010-11, with nearly a fifth of housekeeping jobs being lost over the same period.
The biggest rise in staffing was in the area of customer services and retail, which increased by 38 per cent.
Other rises were seen in the areas of student welfare and human resources, where staffing numbers increased by 14 per cent, and public relations and marketing, which saw a rise of 5 per cent in numbers.
The total number of full-time staff has also dropped slightly by 0.5 per cent.
In contrast, the number of part-time staff has risen slightly by 0.2 per cent.
Despite a slight rise of 0.3 per cent over the last year, the data show that academic numbers have fallen by just over 1 per cent over the last two years.
The University and College Union described the fall as “very concerning” when coupled with the rise in student numbers.
Sally Hunt, general secretary of the UCU, said that the “inevitable result” would be larger tutorial and lecture sizes, with the student experience suffering overall.
“Our members will as always continue to do their best but we need to get away from the idea that more can be done with less if we are to retain our global academic reputation,” she said.
“The sector needs more, not fewer, resources if it is to meet the ever-increasing demands made by students.”
A spokesman from the University and Colleges Employers Association said that there had been some "positive developments" in the sector in the last year.
"The number of female academic staff has risen, and the number of women professors is the highest ever with a rise of 4.1 per cent in the year, additionally the numbers of academic staff on permanent contracts has again risen. Against the background of major funding challenges and major job loses in the wider economy, it would seem that the sector has through careful management, managed to minimise job losses during this period, with a relatively small loss in [full and part-time] academic posts”