Seven earth sciences staff at Imperial College, London, have been asked to take early retirement because of financial problems.
John Beddington, director of the T. H. Huxley School, which incorporates earth sciences, said: "We need to make savings, and obviously salaries are a big chunk of costs."
The seven will leave before March 31, the census date for the research assessment exercise.
Hamish Common, president of the student union, said funding was forcing colleges to cut teaching rather than research staff.
The college has denied this is the case with these cuts.