Hundreds of college lecturers hoping to retire early on an enhanced pension have been told the government cannot afford it.
Lecturers have gone on strike several times since May 2006 over pay
Many had opted for early retirement to avoid a new rule preventing government top-ups of pensions which comes into force on 1 April.
Colleges had rushed through redundancies to beat the deadline.
If the government position remains, colleges may have to fund the deals from their own budgets.
The University and Colleges Union says about 250 people were expecting to receive redundancy with enhanced pension at the end of March.
The Department of Employment and Learning says that so far this year it has approved 50 % more redundancies and enhanced pensions than last year.