John Major has told ministers he wants to revive sport in further and higher education, possibly using National Lottery funds.
A White Paper on sport, due to be published in the summer, is being expanded from its original schools' remit to include ways of boosting Wednesday afternoon games and community sporting initiatives at colleges and universities.
The policy driving the paper is an attempt to widen general participation in sport, making the best use of all facilities available to each community.
Mr Major is said to be keen on the idea and has given Stephen Dorrell, National Heritage Secretary, the task of taking soundings from leading figures in further and higher education.
Mr Dorrell, whose department oversees the National Lottery, may consider earmarking some of the proceeds to improve educational sports facilities.
Another possibility is the inclusion of checks on sporting facilities and activity as part of the college inspection process.
The National Heritage department refused to comment on the details of the White Paper before it is published but a spokesman said: "It started out as a sport in schools document and it became quite apparent you could not look at schools in a vacuum.
"The Government is hoping to put in place a framework where you have as many opportunities as possible for people to play the sport of their choice and it is reasonable to assume that further and higher education will have a role to play in that structure."
David Triesman, general secretary of the Association of University Teachers, said he would welcome a boost for sport.
"I think sport is under pressure from the number of students going through universities because Wednesday afternoons have tended to be rescheduled for teaching, particularly on modularised courses," said Mr Triesman.
"A great number of inner-city colleges don't have the playing fields they used to share with schools any more - they are now under supermarkets. There has been a decline both in the loss of facilities and in the time to do it."
Mr Triesman is due to speak at a National Association of Schoolmasters/ Union of Women Teachers conference later this month on the importance of universities taking a leading role in encouraging community sport.