The vice chancellor said the university would treat staff fairly
Staff at the University of Surrey have been warned that at least 65 jobs could be axed over the next two years.
Academic and support staff would be affected by the proposed cuts.
The University and College Union (UCU) said the plan "made a mockery" of the university's commitment to help people and businesses through the recession.
The Guildford-based university said it would concentrate its resources on departments achieving "financial viability and academic quality".
They would also reduce the "administrative burden" on staff.
Vice chancellor Professor Christopher Snowden said: "The economic climate that we are currently faced with is an unpleasant one, and as an organisation it seems unlikely we will be able to avoid any future material reduction of staffing levels in the next two years.
"However, the university will face up to its responsibilities and take all the necessary steps to ensure our employees are treated fairly."
Earlier this year the university announced it had successfully bid for a £600,000 grant to help people at risk of losing their jobs during the recession.
UCU general secretary Sally Hun said: "It is particularly galling that the University of Surrey is proudly boasting of delivering advice that can boost recovery opportunities and then just weeks later announcing that it will be axing staff."
A union spokesperson said Mr Snowden was the UK's 11th best-paid vice-chancellor with a salary of £285,000 in 2008 - an 11% rise on the previous year.
Across the country, members of the UCU are being balloted for strike action over national employers' refusal to sign up to an agreement promising to consider sacking staff only as a last resort.
The result of the ballot is expected on 22 May.