Welsh universities and colleges are considering plans for a new funding system for part-time higher education courses.
A consultation paper issued by the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales sets out proposals for a formula to link funding with the increasingly modular structure of courses and emerging credit accumulation and transfer schemes.
Under the new system, institutions would give course modules a credit rating which would be multiplied by the number of enrolments to produce a "modular credit" value to guide funding decisions.
Institutions will be asked to work out credit ratings according to the work involved in a module, using the standard full-time degree as a benchmark against which the value of modules is judged.
The formula has been designed to answer complaints that the current system, which uses a count of registrations to calculate funding, is insensitive to wide variations in learning loads and demand on resources for part-time courses.
But the consultation paper warns that the new regime could result in significant changes in recurrent funding for some institutions.
"There are a few institutions which are heavily involved in part-time work, and it does seem likely therefore that their funding would be significantly affected. But we will not know the impact it is likely to have until institutions have worked out their modular credit values," a funding council spokeswoman said.
The council wants to introduce the system by 1996/97, and has asked institutions to complete end- of-year monitoring returns in conventional and credit based formats to help determine whether a safety net will be needed to prevent short-term fluctuations in funding levels.