Cardiff University runs the lifelong learning centre.
Staff at one of the largest lifelong learning centres in Wales say they have been stunned by moves to cut all teaching in the arts and humanities.
Cardiff University Centre For Lifelong Learning, which provides around 700 courses a year in 100 venues, outlined the plans in a letter sent to staff.
The university has now entered into a 90 day consultation period with trade unions.
However, a Cardiff University spokesman said no final decision has been taken.
The university said a review of the centre's teaching courses was prompted by new working terms for all its hourly paid staff.
It is claimed that the new salary arrangements will lead to a increased wage bill, with the need to assess how that could impact on the long-term future of the centre.
But staff at the centre have warned that a move to cut courses such as archaeology, art and architecture, creative writing and Welsh will have a devastating impact on the communities and students it serves.
Dr Dave Wyatt, the co-ordinating lecturer for history at the centre said the cuts would be fought.
"We were given no indication that such drastic measures were being taken," said Dr Wyatt.
"It sends out the message that the humanities are not economically viable, when they are quite successful. There seems to be more than economics at play here."
Dr Wyatt said the centre offered around 250 arts and humanities courses, taken up by more than 2,000 students across south Wales.
"In some ways, we act very much like the Open University, offering people the chance to study for awards, courses to help them into a university education, or simply just for the chance to exercise their brains ," he added.
"The value of what the humanities offer cannot simply be measured in terms of economic benefits."
In the letter from the university outlining its proposals, it states that in order to secure the centre's long-term future it is "likely to be necessary" to reduce course programmes to three areas: science, environment and computer studies; social sciences, including business; and modern foreign languages.
A university spokesperson said: "Cardiff University is currently consulting on new pay and grading arrangements for all hourly paid teaching staff in relation to the National Framework Agreement which aims to apply the principle of equal pay for work of equal value.
"The proposed changes will lead to greater clarification of role, employment status, grading and associated terms and conditions for staff."
However, the spokesperson added that the impact would be felt more keenly in the lifelong learning centre, because of the high proportion of hourly-paid teaching.
"The centre has undertaken a detailed assessment of the implications of a 40% increase in salary costs on its current areas of activity in order to secure the long term future of its provision.
"Options for a way forward are being developed and no decision has been made."
Opponents to the changes have now called a public meeting to discuss the issue on Monday, April 27 at the centre in Cardiff.