Massey University blames budget constraints for a proposal under which more than 50 jobs could be axed from its campuses in Palmerston North, Wellington and Albany.
Under the plan, about 120 general staff, including administrators and technical and IT workers, would have their positions disestablished, while 67 new positions would be created.
The university says the plan will ensure it can cope with reduced government funding and growing student numbers.
The Tertiary Education Union says many staff now face a long period of uncertainty.
Consultation on the proposal is under way and a decision is expected in August.