More than 5,000 qualifications in England studied by few or, in some cases, no students are being scrapped.
The Department for Education is pulling funding from about 40% of the 12,000 post-16 qualifications as it prepares to introduce new T-levels in September. T-levels are post-GCSE courses, equivalent to three A-levels, developed in collaboration with businesses.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said finding the right course was like looking for a needle in a haystack.
He added: "Removing funding for qualifications that have no or low numbers of enrolments will help make sure students have a clearer choice of the qualifications on offer, and ensure they get the skills they need to progress."
The move is the latest step in the government's wider review of post-16 qualifications at Level 3 - A-level standard - and below. But the head of the well respected qualification provider City and Guilds said the move would be "disastrous for social mobility".
The qualifications purge will move closer to a system where teenagers choose at age 16 from one of three routes - A-levels, apprenticeships or T-levels.
The move is also intended to ensure funding goes towards more popular qualifications that help students learn skills they need to go on to have successful careers.