Lecturers in the country's Institutes of Technology have voted in favour of industrial action in response to what they say are "crisis issues" in the sector.
The lecturers, members of the Teacher's Union of Ireland, voted by a margin of 92% on a turnout of 56% to engage in a campaign of industrial action.
The TUI says the sector has been subject to severe funding and staffing cuts at a time of a huge increase in student numbers.
The union represents 4,000 lecturing and research staff in the institutes.
TUI President Gerry Quinn said academic staff in Institutes of Technology had made their position very clear in the ballot. He said the next course of action would be decided by the union's Executive Committee in the new year.
He said they were urging Minister for Education and Skills Jan O'Sullivan to engage meaningfully with the union.