Canterbury University's decision to sack 150 staff over the next three years is being criticised as "academically short-sighted" and bad for the local economy.
The university announced the staff cuts on Wednesday, saying student numbers were falling and the earthquakes has driven up costs.
"Cuts that deep will have a major impact on academic quality and the reputation of the university," Green Party education spokesman David Clendon said.
"They're likely to exacerbate the problem of a declining roll and worsen the university's financial position further."
Mr Clendon says the university contributes about 15 percent of Christchurch's GDP and the Government should be supporting it.
Labour is also blaming the Government and says ministers should have known the university was facing a crisis.
"The Government has done little to help," said tertiary education spokesman Grant Robertson.
"Laying off staff should be a last resort. Christchurch needs world-class tertiary education and you don't get that by sacking lecturers and tutors."