The five higher education trade unions have indicated they are likely to reject a 0.5 per cent pay offer made by employers.
In a joint statement, the University and College Union, the Educational Institute of Scotland, the GMB, Unison and Unite "expressed their dismay at the appalling final pay offer".
The 0.5 per cent offered by the Universities and Colleges Employers Association last week is fractionally higher than the 0.4 per cent it offered earlier this year, but it remains a long way from the 8 per cent minimum demanded by the UCU in 2008.
In the joint statement, the unions say they "rejected the employers' attempt to incorporate incremental rises and pension costs as part of the pay offer".
And they "expressed outrage at the employers' refusal to agree to enter into meaningful negotiations on a national strategy to protect jobs in the sector".
All five unions will now consult their members before issuing a formal rejection or acceptance of the offer in the autumn.
Jon Richards, head of higher education for Unison, said: "We have negotiated hard and long against an intransigent employer and come to the end of the road of negotiations. We will now consult with our representatives and members on the next steps."
A UCU spokesman said: "We were appalled at a miserly 0.5 per cent pay offer. In further education, the pay offer stands at 1.5 per cent."
The UCU remains in dispute with employers following its suspension of a ballot for strike action earlier this year.
Despite the unions' anger, Ucea said its offer was "considered, realistic, responsible and credible under the circumstances, and set against stringent limits of affordability in the sector and in the context of the exceptional pay increases last year".
"With the retail prices index running at -1.6 per cent, this offer clearly maintains the value of the recent substantial increases in pay," a Ucea spokesman said.
He added that Ucea had also offered to work with the unions through three joint-working groups.