Further education (FE) colleges and universities could face "horrific" Stormont funding cuts of almost 20%, BBC News NI understands.
Sources say the Department for the Economy (DfE) told organisations it funds its budget may shrink by between 17% and 19% in 2023-24.
BBC News NI has learned that an urgent meeting to warn of the potential cuts was held by the department on Monday.
A DfE spokesperson said a meeting did take place on 27 February.
In a statement, they said it was held with all the department's arms-length bodies (ALBs) to discuss the current financial outlook.
"No budget has yet been identified, or agreed for 23/24," they said.