Universities will come under pressure to increase data collection and monitoring after an agreement between campus employers and unions this week on equal opportunities.
The draft report, drawn up after months of negotiation, gives national guidelines on improving the lot of women and ethnic minorities in higher education through better strategic planning, improved transparency and assessment of equal pay for work of equal value.
It also recommends that unions and institutions make agreements at campus level on collecting data and setting and monitoring targets for employment of different types of staff.
Until now, most equal opportunities work in higher education has fallen to the Commission on University Career Opportunity. This is likely to change under proposals now being discussed by the Higher Education Funding Council for England and Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals for a new directorate charged with overseeing progress in this area.
The proposed directorate, which is expected to receive backing of up to Pounds 500,000, would receive advice from Cuco, which would become a strategic body.
Malcolm Keight, assistant general secretary at the Association of University Teachers, said extra funding for higher education was needed from the comprehensive spending review to help progress with equal pay.
He also said some disagreements remained with employers, particularly over whether Higher Education Role Analysis (Hera) was the best way of comparing work values.
But he said: "We are pleased that after a great deal of work on behalf of many people developments are taking place which address a very real problem that universities have not been good at addressing in the past."