Campaigners protested outside the university council meeting
A life-long learning centre is to cut around 100 mostly part-time jobs and all of its 250 humanities courses on a temporary basis in September.
Cardiff University's council said the cuts were designed to secure the future of the Centre for Lifelong Learning.
Around 50 humanities courses will be brought back in early 2010 in an entirely new trial programme.
Campaigners against the cuts have said the value of the courses could not be measured in terms of economic benefits.
The centre currently offers 700 courses to adult learners in 100 centres across south Wales.
The courses to be cut include photography, Welsh, archaeology, history of art and creative writing.
It is expected the decision will affect mainly tutors who teach less than 50 hours a year.
Originally the university had planned to cut all of its humanities teaching and the council maintained this was still the most financially viable option.
But it said it was willing to underwrite some initial financial risk in order to produce a sustainable academic programme.
New teaching roles should become available with the new programme in 2010 and "considerable efforts" were ongoing to redeploy staff, said the council.
The centre's courses in science, the environment, computer studies, social studies and foreign languages will continue.
Course fees will also be reviewed to bring them in line with similar ones offered in south Wales.
In April, the university said it was prompted to make plans to cut staff and subjects because of new working terms for all its hourly paid staff.
Since then the proposals have been out for consultation and council said it was grateful to campaigners for their "considered contributions".
Cardiff University runs the lifelong learning centre.
A spokesman for the university council said: "The university hopes that all parties will now recognise that united action is the best way to secure the future of the centre, at a time when lifelong learning provision is coming under pressure across the UK."
Professor Terry Threadgold, Pro Vice-Chancellor, said the decision recognised a strong commitment to maintaining the centre's humanities teaching.
"The current business model is just not workable as it stands," she said.
Campaign group Save Our Subjects protested as members of the university council met to make their decision on Monday.
Previously, Dr Dave Wyatt, the co-ordinating lecturer for history at the centre, said the humanities courses were quite successful.
"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."