Northern Ireland's higher education advisory body could be revamped if proposals for a parallel body for further education and training go ahead.
The Northern Ireland Higher Education Council (Nihec), set up in 1993, lacks the funding role of the councils in the other parts of the United Kingdom.
Sean Farren, Northern Ireland's minister for higher and further education, said he expected its "renewed membership" to cooperate with counterparts in the UK and Ireland.
Its advice on higher education policy and planning will expand to cover teacher education and higher education within the further education colleges.
Dr Farren also plans to give the Training and Employment Agency Board responsibility for advice on further education and training.
Penny Holloway, chair of the Association of University Teachers' Northern Ireland committee, welcomed the bid to strengthen and widen Nihec's membership.
"AUT policy expressed the desire for a funding council for Northern Ireland," she said. "Given the circumstances, however, the AUT hopes that a strengthened and broadened Nihec will bring added value and expertise to higher education in Northern Ireland."