Further education colleges have warned that giving ministers formal power to decide their priorities could threaten their charitable status, worth pound;50 million to the sector.
Instead, they say the Scottish Funding Council should make its grants dependent upon priorities defined by the Scottish Government. Colleges believe this would increase their own accountability, but they want to decide themselves how these priorities are achieved.
Representative body Scotland's Colleges made its suggestions in a submission to the Griggs review of college governance, which is due to be published in the next few months. The submission stressed that previous reviews had found "a good standard of governance without serious shortcomings".
College boards could be given a new duty to take account of regional and national issues in curriculum planning, it suggested. While the system for appointments to management roles was efficient, transparency could be increased by introducing independent representation on selection panels.