Two universities have confirmed that they will not pay their staff this month's 5 per cent national pay rise.
Under the final stage of a three-year national pay deal, staff are due a rise in line with the retail prices index inflation figure, which at 5 per cent is far higher than vice-chancellors envisaged when agreeing the deal in 2006.
But the universities of Swansea and Bolton said that they would partially defer payment of the increase.
Swansea's council this week refused to authorise an increase of more than 2.5 per cent, while Bolton agreed to a 2 per cent rise.
Bolton's deputy vice-chancellor Peter Marsh said the Government had recommended a 2 per cent award for public sector staff. He said the university was committed to paying the salary deal in full, but had to consider the full costs alongside other factors, such as student recruitment and Government funding levels.
Unison's regional officer Paul Foley branded the decision "a slap in the face". He said that the national agreement allowed a university to defer the pay rise only if it was "in dire financial circumstances", while Bolton had "£11 million tucked away" and could afford to pay.
Swansea said the 5 per cent increase represented "a significant departure" from its salary budget. The university's finance committee will decide on 1 December whether to authorise the full award.
• University and College Union members at Nottingham Trent University went on strike on Tuesday over the university's insistence on a new recognition agreement that would cut the time that union representatives are able to spend on union activities.