STAFF at a cash-strapped university claim prospective students are buying a “lottery ticket” rather than an education after bosses announced at least 20 staff would be axed.

University of Abertay chiefs this week told employees that they were looking to cut around 20 jobs, blaming a lack of funding from the Scottish Government for their decision.

The Herald on Sunday understands some departments are set to be decimated by the cuts, with seven out of eight employees in one department and nine of 18 in another being targeted for redundancy.

Sources say students set to join the university next term are now facing an “education lottery” due to the lack of resources, and claim the impact on lecturers who remain will be “unmanageable”.

They also say rumours have circulated around campus that the institution may be planning to pass over all of its courses except computer gaming ones to Dundee University – a claim the institution has denied.

A source at Abertay said: “Last year staff predicted when they started cutting the courses that they want to make the computing programmes as successful as possible and then amalgamate everything else with Dundee university.

“Although nothing has been confirmed, they say they will continue to recruit staff for the computer games programmes while everything else is just being cut. It’s not hard to see what’s going on. The redundancy packages are a joke, and they have left this so late that I don’t see how they can fill the lecturing posts they need for next year at this time, if they do cut so many people in individual departments.

“Staff are incredibly stressed, disappointed and also concerned for the students who are there now and those coming in the new term.

“They're not paying for an education, they're paying for a lottery ticket when they come here – who knows what teaching staff will be left or what state the courses will be in by then.

“It is bizarre that the university say that demand for courses is increasing, yet they are cutting staff. It makes no sense.”

The student president Tam Wilson said the proposals were “extremely disappointing” and questioned the timing of the announcement.

He said: “We have no doubt of the impact this will be having on staff at the university and they, along with both staff unions, have our full support at this worrying time. We stand opposed to any redundancies conducted in this way.

“Not only will this lead incoming students to question the university’s commitment to their degree, this may adversely affect PHD students with potential changes in supervisors.

"We believe we are now in danger of moving into a precarious culture at Abertay. With what appears to be large shifts within the university taking place on a regular basis, we are aware of staff insecurities from all departments across the university.

“We believe it is no coincidence that this move to redundancies is taking place at this time while lecturing staff are at their busiest, marking student assessments, and the majority of students are off campus after their exams.”

A spokesman for the university said: “The university has begun consultation with some staff and the trade unions to ensure that our teaching and research activities can be effectively and sustainably delivered with the right mix of staffing across our academic subjects and services. We hope to achieve reductions in academic staff numbers on a voluntary basis and anticipate around 20 roles being affected.

“This decision was taken in the context of continued real-terms cuts in Scottish Government funding and significantly increased costs related to academic staff pensions.

“With demand to study at Abertay increasing year on year, and both student applications and student numbers on the rise, our key priority is to continue to provide the best possible student experience and first-class teaching and learning.

“We will continue to recruit staff in areas where we have identified need and teaching will continue as normal across all programmes.

“There are no plans to merge with the University of Dundee or any other university.”