Lecturers voted for strikes this term, which could lead to weeks without classes on campuses across the nation.
The University and College Union (UCU), has committed to staging walk-outs in 68 institutions before Christmas to protest cuts to pensions.
Last night, 76% of members who voted supported strike action, while 88% supported action without a strike.
The overall turnout was 53%, which is higher than the legal threshold of 50% required to grant a mandate.
Members of the University and College Union have voted for industrial action. It could continue into the new calendar year if the deadlock continues.
Students who have already suffered almost two years of disruptions and online learning because of the pandemic will feel even more pain.
It comes after a long-running dispute regarding the Universities Superannuation Scheme, (USS), for lecturers’ retirements.
Based on a flawed valuation of their scheme, the UCU claims that staff will be subject to a 35% cut in retirement incomes.
University bosses claim that staff will still enjoy ‘one the most attractive pension plans in the country’ despite the changes.
Jo Grady, UCU general secretary, said: ‘These results are a clear mandate for strike action over pension cuts and should be heard loud and clear by university employers.
‘Staff at universities have given their best to support students during pandemic. However, management has tried to cut their guaranteed pension by 35%.
“In a three-week ballot window, our members have made it clear that their retirement will not be subject to these vindictive attacks.
‘It is now in employer’s hands to avoid strike action. This is what staff want.
Management should simply withdraw any unnecessary cuts and resume negotiations.
“If they fail to do this, any disruption will be entirely their fault.”
UCU claims that Universities UK (UUK), the employer body, decided to reduce retirement benefits by thousands of pounds for university staff. This was based on a flawed valuation of the scheme at the start of the pandemic and markets were collapsing.
The union also expects the results of today’s ballot for strike action regarding pay and conditions.
The largest ever strike action at universities was last year with 14 days of walkouts on similar issues.