Staffordshire University is to axe nearly a tenth of its academic posts to save £3.6 million lost through falling student numbers.
A total of 47 compulsory job losses are planned over the next three years with the closure of modern languages, an end to single honours teaching in philosophy, history and geology, and a "scaling down" in politics.
A meeting of the university's Natfhe branch passed a vote of no confidence in Christine King, the vice-chancellor, and her senior management team, and called for a ballot on industrial action.
Tim Harris, chair of the lecturers' union Natfhe branch, said there were fears the redundancies could have a domino effect, leading to further closures and job losses. He said: "These proposals amount to decimation of the university. If this decline continues, we will begin to look more like a small specialist higher education college."
In an internal bulletin sent to all staff, Professor King explained that the redundancies were necessary because a drop in student numbers had resulted in funding being held back for the first time. The associated loss in tuition fees had led to a budget shortfall of about £3.6 million.
She told The Times Higher that compulsory job losses were part of a plan to deal with the effects of the fall in undergraduate numbers over three years, a trend that had been halted.
The university was investing in new areas to reshape itself into a "clear and distinctive mould" with the aim of serving the local vocational market, she said.
Professor King admitted this would probably mean that the proportion of students drawn from within easy travelling distance of the university, currently at 65 per cent, would rise further.
She added: "We are not making cuts simply to manage our budgets, it's about change.."
- Lecturers at University College Northampton staged a protest yesterday against cuts of up to 15 academic posts in English, fine art, environmental science and architectural technology to save £600,000. Natfhe claims management has rejected calls to explore alternatives. UCN said it "needed to focus on areas where income and student demand was declining" as part of its plans to become a university.