The number of trainee primary school teachers will be more than halved
About 1,500 teacher training places are to be cut next year, according to the Scottish Funding Council.
Its figures show that the number of trainees will fall by 40% compared to 2009/10.
The Scottish government said it had reduced the student intake to deal with teacher unemployment, and to create jobs for those already qualified.
But the University and College Union claimed the decision would do nothing to help Scotland's education system.
The biggest drop will be for student primary teachers, whose numbers will fall by more than half, from 2,555 this year to 1,100 next year.
Secondary teacher training places will be reduced to 1,000 which is about 100 fewer than last year.
Last year, a survey by the Times Educational Supplement indicated only one in seven new teachers had obtained permanent posts.
The Scottish government agreed the cuts to deal with this problem in September and they were confirmed on Monday.
Education Secretary Mike Russell said: "By reducing student numbers we can create more jobs for those teachers already qualified.
"We are working with the Initial Teacher Education providers to ensure we maintain capacity in the system to meet Scotland's future teacher training needs."
But the University and College Union said the cuts will make it more difficult to sustain teacher education departments.
UCU Scotland President Lesley McIntosh said: "We have seen massive increases in the teacher education budgets then cutbacks on a cyclical basis, which just leads to a ridiculous hire-and-fire regime.
"I am astonished we have not learnt from previous failings."
NUS Scotland President Liam Burns said: "Scotland can't carry on with this boom and bust method of teacher training.
"With cuts to education departments at universities across Scotland we could lose very talented lecturers.
"While student teacher numbers have been cut this year, we know we will need many more teachers over the coming years as teachers retire and Scotland needs capacity in our system to provide accessible teacher training courses across the country."
The number of teachers has fallen by 2,000 from 53,000 since the SNP came to power in 2007 and Mr Russell said recently this trend was unlikely to be reversed.