Several hundred jobs are at risk across more than a dozen new universities.
At least 14 universities are planning cuts, with up to 140 academics facing redundancy at Northumbria and a further 104 staff due to be axed at Hertfordshire.
Tom Wilson, head of universities at lecturers' union Natfhe, said: "The second wave of higher education expansion is going to be much more complicated than the first. Universities are having to bite the bullet and take dramatic restructuring action now and are developing their niches."
Natfhe is alarmed at Northumbria's plans to impose a 7 per cent spending cut and has offered to pay for independent auditors to examine the university books.
A Northumbria spokesman said: "Funding is tight. A lot of universities are in deficit. We're not, but our forecasts suggest we will be in two years, and the vast proportion of our expenditure is on salaries. Our target to stay out of deficit is to save 7 per cent over two years." He said the university hoped to avoid compulsory redundancies.
Hertfordshire's unions are concerned by plans to cut about 55 academics and 50 support staff in the departments of chemistry, civil engineering and social sciences. "There will almost definitely be compulsory redundancies," said a spokesman for the Association of University Teachers.
Lecturers at Guildhall University are gearing up for industrial action after the vice-chancellor Roderick Floud refused to rule out compulsory redundancies as part of rationalisation plans.
Lecturers allege that the budget has been mismanaged, expressing surprise at a 12 per cent rise in staffing levels in 1998-99 after five years of reductions. Professor Floud said the increases had been made within "approved staffing budgets".
Natfhe said redundancies were also threatened at: Teesside, Sunderland, Lincolnshire and Humberside, Thames Valley, Staffordshire, University of Central England, Coventry, Trinity College Carmarthen, Plymouth and the College of St Mark and St John.
8 newsThe Times HigherJjuly 28 2000 Want to blow the whistle?
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