The Higher Education Funding Council for England has launched a review of partnership agreements between universities and further education colleges.
A team of reviewers from three universities, two colleges and the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education has been asked by Hefce to investigate how funding is split between institutions in such partnerships.
Hefce also wants to find out whether institutions are sticking to guidance it issued in codes of practice for indirectly funded partnerships three years ago.
The move comes as colleges seek to strengthen their role in delivering higher education courses and their entitlement to the right level of funding to support it.
The Learning and Skills Council said it expects colleges to play a greater role in meeting government higher education targets.
The Hefce review is designed to reveal information about the variety of partnerships between universities and colleges, including the range of costs of activities involved, and the management structures that institutions have adopted to run them.
It should also highlight aspects of partnerships that institutions consider to be working well, and any areas of concern.
The information may be used to inform expansion of indirectly funded higher education in colleges, as proposed in the higher education white paper.
Institutions will be asked to provide copies of existing franchise, consortia and partnership agreements in the coming weeks. The review team will aggregate the information and keep the details confidential.
Although taking part will not be compulsory, institutions that decline to give the requested details will be asked to explain why.