The Irish Federation of University Teachers is calling on Education Minister Richard Bruton to provide more resources and extra staff for universities.
It comes as the Times Higher Education World University Rankings determined that no Irish institution merited a place in the top 200 in the world, though Trinity's position may be reviewed after a data submission error.
IFUT said there has been an increase in university enrolment by 18% between 2008 and 2014 but this was met with a decrease in funding of 28% between 2007 and 2014.
General Secretary Mike Jennings has accused Minister Bruton of sitting on his hands while the sector declines.
"It is a real wake-up call for the Minister," he said.
"Unfortunately all the evidence seems to be that Minister Bruton is not for waking.
"I don't know for how much longer he's going to sit on his hands and watch the Irish university system just suffer slow and really toxic deterioration.
"Things are really, really bad and I just hope that Richard Bruton is reading this coverage this morning and is provoked into actually doing something."
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said that funding third level is important to Ireland's future and will be a key demand in next month's Budget.
"If you look back over 40 years in this country, consistent investment in education was the key to the modernisation of our country, and to the success of inward investment into the country," he said.
"You talk to people across any of the major multinationals who came in here, apart from taxation and other issues, talent and opportunity was the key."