The new Teacher Training Agency is to launch a wide-ranging review of funding for initial and in-service teacher training.
It has invited bids for an independent study team to consult with higher education institutions and schools, and wants the study to cover the possibility of gearing the new funding system to student's achievement rather than intakes.
Institutions will be asked whether there is room for reducing current variations in funding between the same and similar programmes; criteria for the resourcing of different subject areas; and the role of funding and allocations methodology in helping recruit students in shortage subject areas, or encouraging people from ethnic minorities or with disabilities.
Many colleges and university departments will want to suggest changes to the unpopular system for funding on the basis of "contracted" student numbers - a projected figure based on expected drop-out rates - which was inherited from the Higher Education Funding Council for England.
And many are likely to ask for earlier knowledge of the allocations process. Under the present arrangements training providers are not told their final student numbers or allocations until several months after they have begun recruiting.
The TTA plans to consult institutions in the summer and autumn on a range of options which could be implemented in 1997/98, although some changes might be be brought in a year earlier.
Anthea Millett, TTA chief executive, said: "We need to secure a better focused system, with clearer objectives and an assurance that teachers' time and energies are being used profitably on high quality training designed to improve teaching and learning."