A $28-million shortfall at the University of Alberta could mean fewer professors and larger class sizes as departments are faced with making deeper cuts to their budgets.

Department heads were previously told to trim their budgets by two per cent over two years, but now they've been informed the hit could be about eight per cent.

"The shortfall is so extreme it will impact on everything," Ellen Goddard, head of the rural economy department, said.

U of A provost Karl Amrhein says higher salaries and benefits and soaring heating bills are to blame for the $28-million shortfall. He hopes to get the money from the province, but says they've received no answer.

"We continue to talk to people from the ministry. They have not said yes and they've not said no," Amrhein said. "It certainly is serious. It will certainly affect the way we do business. We simply cannot reallocate that much of our budget and not see it turn up in a reduced ability to do the core business of teaching and research."

Goddard says without an infusion of cash, some class sizes would likely double, staff would be cut and professors who leave wouldn't be replaced.

The university just raised its tuition for next year by five per cent.