The Association of University Teachers was confident of securing a "yes" vote for industrial action over pay this week.
Speaking to The Times Higher as the ballot closed on Wednesday, AUT assistant general secretary Matt Waddup said he was sure "members have voted in large numbers and have voted yes".
The union has rejected the 6.44 per cent, two-year pay offer, which comes with the biggest shake-up of academic career structures in 40 years. With calculations hotly disputed by employers, the AUT said senior support staff could lose £47,000 over 21 years and researchers could lose £17,300 over nine years as a result of lower annual pay increments.
Industrial action would start this month and would probably coincide with a National Union of Students campaign against top-up fees, which starts on February 23.
Lecturers' union Natfhe remains in talks over the deal and is still hoping to secure enough concessions to recommend that its members accept the deal in a ballot next month.