The University of Gloucestershire has announced plans for up to 30 compulsory redundancies, including 17 academic posts.
The cuts are likely to be only the first round of forced departures, and the University and College Union has accused management of reneging on promises made in early summer after 100 employees agreed to leave voluntarily.
The redundancies are part of an "academic efficiency review" aimed at saving £3 million. Gloucestershire's governing council was notified this month that its deficit at the end of the past financial year was more than £6 million.
The proposed job cuts are all in the university's largest faculty, education, humanities and natural sciences (EHS), where a £3 million deficit recently emerged.
Staff at risk include national teaching fellows and a number of professors hired in the past two years.
The redundancies will be implemented by Paul Bowler, the new deputy vice-chancellor (operations) of Gloucestershire and acting dean of the EHS faculty.
Efforts to address the university's financial situation have thus far focused on rationalising its estate, with plans to sell two campuses in London and Cheltenham.
The university's £8.3 million investment in its East London campus, which opened seven months ago, is understood to be central to its financial difficulties. It is hoped that the sale of the two campuses will reduce Gloucestershire's borrowing from £36 million to £14 million, saving £5 million a year in running costs and interest repayments.
A UCU spokeswoman said the university's management had "reneged on pledges made to academic staff in the early summer concerning their future". She said the job cuts would leave research and undergraduates inadequately supported.
The union is also understood to have questioned the rationale behind cutting professorial jobs while leaving the faculty's middle management intact.
However, several senior managers have left Gloucestershire this year under voluntary redundancy arrangements, including its finance and human resources directors.
A university spokeswoman said: "An academic efficiency review has been launched, which will result in uneconomic activity being curtailed and new subject areas and combinations being developed."
She added that the 30 posts being cut would include compulsory and voluntary redundancies. However, the UCU claimed the university was planning to make the cuts regardless of the number of volunteers.
The university spokeswoman said: "It is unlikely that compulsory redundancies will be avoided in the future, and it has been made clear to the trade unions that an ongoing programme of efficiency reviews will inevitably result in further compulsory job losses."