Massey University is encouraging its staff to consider directing part of their salary back to the institution's registered charity.
In a pamphlet sent to staff, the university says if 3000 full time staff gave $6 a fortnight, $650,000 a year would be raised.
Tertiary Education Union president Sandra Grey says the university has told staff the money will ensure teaching, research and learning remain first class.
She says it is astonishing that a well-regarded university should call on its own workers for donations so it can remain first class.
Ms Grey says that perhaps the university should ask Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce, a Massey graduate, for the funding to remain first class.