Students at the University of Durham occupied the library this week in protest at possible departmental closures as part of the university's review of academic and administrative operations.
The review is part of a bid to strengthen academic leadership and put Durham on a stable financial footing.
A university spokesman said there was no "hit list" of departments earmarked for closure and no decisions had been taken, but vice-chancellor Sir Kenneth Calman was not able to rule out the possibility that some courses may have to be phased out.
The spokesman said:"Durham did very well in the research assessment exercise and achieved a high average grade of 22 for teaching quality, but this does not guarantee extra financial income and the university has to decide how to develop in future and what it can and can not afford."
The review follows a report from an advisory group set up by Sir Kenneth. It says: "The university faces a major problem of securing sufficient money to meet its strategic objectives. Our administrative systems are not working as well as they should and there is a need for much clearer lines of accountability and responsibility."
The report says that funding priorities need to be concentrated on sustaining or raising departments to grade 5 or5* in the RAE, which means Durham will not be able to invest in some subjects.
It also recommends changing from four faculties to a multidivisional structure.
Emily Fieran-Reed, president of the students union and a member of the advisory group, refused to put her name to the report as she said students could not support any departmental closures.
The review will be put to the university senate in May.