Unions are warning of possible strike action after Liverpool Hope University announced plans to cut about 10 per cent of all jobs, with the institution citing public funding cuts to non-science subjects and teacher training.
Liverpool Hope last week submitted formal notification of plans to cut up to 110 staff, covering 60 academic and 50 non-academic posts. It has said that it cannot rule out compulsory redundancies.
The university, which is heavily balanced towards arts, humanities and social science subjects, expects to lose about 95 per cent of its public funding for undergraduate degrees in the wake of the Browne Review and the government's Comprehensive Spending Review.
It is also a major centre for teacher training, which the government wants to shift away from universities and into schools.
However, unions have highlighted individual payments of £5,000 made to members of senior management for "acting up" as departmental heads, who will select redundancy candidates.
Caroline Bennett, University and College Union branch chair, said that at a branch meeting last week there was "a unanimous call for industrial action". She urged the university to rule out compulsory redundancies.
"I've been here for 20 years and I've never seen anything like this, either in terms of the strength of feeling among the staff or the ruthlessness of the cuts," she said.
Dr Bennett suggested that the university was being "opportunistic" in getting rid of staff who "haven't been wanted for a long time". And she pointed out that the government has not made a final announcement on funding for teacher training.
Raph Parkinson, Unison area organiser, said that if union members were issued with compulsory redundancy notices, "we do have permission from our members to ballot". But he said Unison was "a long way from that at this moment".
Although Liverpool Hope will be able to make up lost public income through higher tuition fees, it says it is "determined not to transfer all its present costs on to graduate debt for the future".