The London Metropolitan University is said to be planning to cut more than two thirds of its degree courses, going from 557 to 160 by the 2012 academic year.

The university – which is expected to charge students an average £6,850 tuition fee and two years ago was accused of appalling financial mismanagement after it incorrectly claimed £36m from the government – has 20,000 undergraduates but around 80 per cent of them were said to be on just on 80 courses.

This meant the course culling would reduce the number of undergraduates at the university by around 25 per cent. Last year over 57 per cent of undergraduates were from working-class backgrounds, the highest level in the UK. The national average is just over 32 per cent.

Courses expected to be cut are in such subject areas as theatre studies, history, trade unions, dance and performing arts, philosophy, modern languages and Caribbean studies.

The university’s University and College Union secretary Cliff Snaith said: “It seems that basically ‘working-class’ kids from poorer homes are being told they don’t deserve to study for history or philosophy degrees.”