The Australian National University has told staff that just under 200 jobs will need to go if it is to recover from the coronavirus crisis and the collapse in the numbers of students from abroad.
"The forecast further reduction in staff positions is now estimated to be the equivalent of 194 positions," the plan, which has been sent to staff, says.
But this is down from the 215 posts previously earmarked to go. Many staff have already volunteered to leave.
The union at the university said it wanted much more detail because the plan indicated that the ANU seemed to be ready to sack people while also hiring others.
The plan envisages taking on 145 people as it loses the 194.
"People are very concerned," Dr Cathy Day of the National Tertiary Education Union said.
She wanted an assurance that people ear-marked for involuntary departure would be given an option on new jobs.
The ANU's Vice-Chancellor Brian Schmidt said the cuts were necessary to ensure the long term viability of the university.
He acknowledged that "everyone has made sacrifices" but the university was "not yet through the disruption".
Other measures have also reduced the proposed job cuts. The top leaders took pay cuts, which saved $397,000, according to the recovery plan document.
"Staff generously deferred a pay rise, an act that saved $13.5 million and up to 90 positions.
"Staff have also made generous donations throughout 2020 to the ANU Staff Urgent Relief Fund - providing support to 68 staff totalling $116,000."
The university said it would also be looking much more to gifts from people and companies to fund its work.
"Philanthropic funding will be a growing portion of our future revenue and an important step in its diversification. Educational philanthropy in Australia is on the rise and, as the national university, we have a compelling case to make."
The ANU has pushed up its borrowing after federal Finance Minister Mathias Cormann raised the debt limit to $800 million.
"We have put in place arrangements to borrow up to $615 million of that limit of which we have so far used $315 million," the recovery plan says.
"Neither increasing debt nor running an operating deficit are sustainable indefinitely."