LA TROBE University Pro Vice Chancellor Richard Speed has said the mood among Bendigo staff was "sombre but realistic" in the face of a major restructure.
The university announced the consultation process on Monday for the most significant structural reform the institution has seen in 50 years.
"Everybody is serious, everybody is mindful that this is a once in a generation, once in the life of the university change," Professor Speed said.
"People we care about and value might not be with us going forward."
He said jobs were "going to have to go".
He said the university needed $65 million to invest in new strategies to make its operations more efficient.
"Sixty per cent of our costs are salary costs so its extraordinarily difficult to make that saving without cutting jobs," he said.
"It's abundantly clear that we are not going to find that money from anywhere other than our own operations.
"We will not be able to take everybody with us into the future."
He said this week and next week was an opportunity for staff to comment on proposed changes and was a chance for some "negative consequences" to be "moderated".
"That's the purpose of this period. It stops us coming out with set of ideas that aren't tested against the expertise of the people delivering the programs," he said.
"Some people might see some of the changes as not in the best interests of students or might require further thought."
"It's a genuine consultation."
He said jobs cuts were necessary partly in order to manage the cost of tuition fees for students.
"Every dollar we don’t manage to save out of our costs, the only place we can then look for that money is in higher student fees," he said.
"Part of this entire process is ensuring that our future students don’t have to pay for our inefficiency."
He said the deregulation of student fees was not something the university knew about when it first began planning reforms.