The Scottish Higher Education Funding Council has earmarked £120,000 to boost people management in universities and colleges in the coming year.
Institutions must draw up and monitor a human-resources strategy as a condition of the grant.
Shefc last year gave the sector £400,000 for improvements, and is set to work with the Scottish Heads of Personnel, Universities Scotland and unions to promote best practice and carry out research into equal opportunities for staff.
It expects every institution to have an overarching plan for people management by 2003, and to boost senior and middle managers' skills.
Shefc said institutions needed to maximise the potential of their staff, their most valuable resource, to continue being successful and that modernising management was crucial in delivering equal opportunities.
But David Bleiman, Scottish official of the Association of University Teachers, said that while there was a mechanism to hold universities to account for developing and implementing better human-resource strategies, he felt two things were lacking.
"One is an easy one for Shefc to accomplish. That would be to compile and publish details of universities' HR strategies and outcomes, to facilitate benchmarking and monitoring by the unions," he said.
"The other one is much more difficult and the main responsibility rests with the government. That is to provide a significant real-terms increase in funding to meet the undoubted cost of closing the gender pay gap."
Mr Bleiman said another "massive issue" for institutions to tackle was new regulations on preventing less favourable treatment for fixed-term workers.