lecturers in Northern Ireland could be given payouts worth a total of more than pound;1 million after an industrial tribunal ruled they had been wrongly denied pay rises.
The 70 lecturers started work during 2001 when an agreement to remove lower levels of the pay scale should have been in force.
But the college employers delayed it until the following year, and subsequently argued that the lecturers should never have been included in the new pay structure.
This meant a pay deficit built up which, in some cases, totalled more than pound;20,000.
The employers have allowed the deadline to lodge an appeal against the decision to pass.
Jim McKeown, the regional official of the University and College Union, said: "The employers made an agreement and refused to implement it. It is appalling that they continue to use taxpayers' money to defend the indefensible. It's clear people didn't get their proper pay. Now it's just a matter of calculating the compensation."
Northern Ireland lecturers are also in dispute over the implementation of an agreement to give them equal pay with schoolteachers. Six strikes have been held so far over the issue.