Lecturers' union Natfhe is to consult members immediately on possible industrial action over pay later in the year.
Delegates voted to conduct a consultative ballot in the event that the Universities and Colleges Employers Association makes them an unacceptable pay offer.
The UCEA was due to meet Natfhe negotiators yesterday. It is thought likely that Natfhe will be offered the same 3.5 per cent rise offered to the Association of University Teachers. The AUT has started industrial action over the offer and the Natfhe conference voted to coordinate any future industrial action with other unions if its offer is not significantly better.
Some delegates at the conference argued that a consultative ballot held immediately could take the wind out of the sails of a fully fledged campaign that would start after the union's September 1 settlement date.