University courses will be cut as the Government seeks to "create a market" in higher education, a former Midland vice-chancellor has warned.
Dr Mike Goldstein, who retired as head of Coventry University last year, said a shift towards "popularism" would serve to reduce provision.
And he expressed concern that universities were becoming more influenced by commercial factors rather than what was good for society.
Dr Goldstein has been a leading critic of plans to introduce variable tuition fees in higher education from next year.
He spoke out after The Birmingham Post revealed plans to axe five degree courses.
"Government policy is to create a market in higher education, which will become even more marked when topup fees come into play,' he said.
"This desire to create a market disregards the important role which universities play in meeting social needs as a public service, and inevitably will give rise to undesirable consequences."
Dr Goldstein is now chairman of education marketing services company Heist.
During his 21 years at Coventry University, he saw the university's student population grow from 7,000 to 17,000 and its income shoot up from £35 million to £93 million.
He believes variable fees will lead to a two-tier system with candidates from wealthy backgrounds dominating high-fee charging universities.
Newer universities, such as Coventry, that are more likely to cater for candidates from poorer backgrounds will be less able to charge the full amount, he claims, increasing the divide between rich and poor universities.
Dr Goldstein also attacked the growing concentration of funds into research- led courses.
"This policy is having serious effects on the ability of universities which focus on teaching rather than research to sustain courses in science and technology simply because they are not adequately funded to run such courses," he said.
"It could result in loss of some courses which are important strategically for economic development - materials science, mechanical engineering, chemistry and physics come to mind."
Signs of this happening are already appearing.
The University of Birmingham plans to phase out its BA programmes in Combined Humanities, Creative Writing, War Studies and Performing, Visual Arts and Community and Play and Youth.
Last year, Aston University said it is to axe its civil engineering course after 50 years, claiming dwindling numbers made it non-viable.
Ten university chemistry courses have closed in the last decade with chemistry student numbers falling from 7,490 to 5,735 since 1997.
Dr Goldstein said: " Replacing such courses by courses in forensic science, media studies, creative writing, and the like - in response to popular demand - is not the answer.
"These alternative courses are of sound educational value, but a major shift towards such popularism is having a distorting effect on the overall provision and will create long term inadequacies."