A fifth of English higher education universities and colleges expect to make staff redundant or encourage early retirement in the next four years, according to funding council returns.
Their strategic plans to 1998 show that 15 per cent plan a "major restructuring of staff". The returns also forecast rising student numbers.
Total full-time equivalent student numbers (excluding overseas students) are expected to increase 14 per cent to 1,036,700 by 1997/98, compared to the 12 per cent growth the Government projected in 1993. But both percentages mean much slower growth than in the early 1990s.
The Higher Education Funding Council said: "The great majority of higher education institutions have taken account of the Government's policy of consolidating student numbers over the period."
The number of students receiving publicly funded tuition fees is forecast to be slightly above the upper limit for 1994/95, but within the 1 per cent margin allowed.
Full-time academic staff numbers are expected to rise 4 per cent to 76,000 by 1997/98, and other staff are forecast to rise 1 per cent.
Two-fifths of institutions plan big changes in subjects offered or academic structure. Half have already developed modular structures for courses, and by 1997/98 two thirds will have credit accumulation and transfer arrangements. Nearly all plan to strengthen research, principally by the selective allocation of resources; pump-priming initiatives; staff recruitment; growth in postgraduate research numbers; and encouragement of specialist research centres.
More than half already have or are planning a semester system before 1996/97. Most favour an early September start, but are put off by the present A level and university admissions timetable. There was general support for a third semester in summer.