Scottish unions and management are poised for a crunch meeting on Wednesday in a bid to stave off potential disruption at seven institutions.
The management at Scotland's five new universities, Queen Margaret University College and Glasgow School of Art wanted to introduce a revised contract for new academic staff from January 1. The proposed new contract includes the loss of 20 days' annual leave.
The management side has now suspended that deadline, but wants to see negotiations on "Partnership 2000" (P2K) concluded on January 12. The joint union committee believes there are too many issues to be tackled, many of them contentious.
The talks may break down over leave entitlements. The P2K proposals call for 41 days' leave, including 11 public holidays, while the unions propose 46 days.