Staffing levels at Keele University's modern languages department could be halved to help plug a Pounds 400,000 funding gap.
The dozen or so remaining staff would be expected to cater for existing students and continue pursuing research.
Janet Finch, Keele's vice chancellor, has written to the staff to let them know it was no longer an option to maintain the department in its current form.
The university plans to select staff likely "to contribute to teaching and research in an interdisciplinary European studies framework".
Keele has already introduced an enhanced early retirement and voluntary severance scheme.
The modern languages department is one of those worst hit by money-saving restructuring at the university.
About 50 staff have left Keele through early retirement and voluntary redundancy since last June when Professor Finch set up a staffing targets group.
The group identified the number of staff each department should have, taking into account the number of students and the amount of external income it managed to attract.
The electronic engineering department is already in the process of closing, with the loss of half of its ten staff, because of low recruitment and demand for expensive equipment.
Joe Andrew, head of modern languages at Keele, said: "We believe humanities has been disadvantaged by the staffing targets model because we have relatively low research income.
"Unfortunately we have also been hit by a double whammy because applications for modern languages are down across the country."
Talks are taking place between the university and the Association of University Teachers this month to find an acceptable solution to the problems.