The Tertiary Education Union says staff could be victimised under Canterbury University's plan to get tough on subject areas not meeting government research funding criteria.
The Performance Based Research Fund attempts to measure the research coming out of tertiary institutions, and assign funding accordingly.
Canterbury University says its share is $125 million over five years.
After 2012, it plans to deduct $40,000 a year from any of its six colleges found to have too many academics not meeting the fund's criteria.
The Tertiary Education Union says that could endanger the jobs of new staff who haven't had time to produce results.
It says academics may neglect their teaching if they are under pressure to focus on research.