The Faculty Association at Cape Breton University worries as many as 20 faculty jobs could be eliminated.
University president David Wheeler says the school needs to cut costs by about $5 million due in part to the shrinking number of local high school graduates.
Wheeler has invoked a clause in the faculty's contract allowing a committee to look at ways to cut spending on staffing.
"To manage all these changes through voluntary measures, and I personally believe that is possible," said Wheeler.
"It will start processes in play that the end result of which could be layoff notices given to our members in two to three months down the road," said Scott Stewart, president of the Cape Breton University Faculty Association.
Wheeler says voluntary measures are being considered, including early retirements and job shares.
The Faculty Association is not in a legal strike position until its contract expires at the end of June.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Ryan MacDonald.