Lecturers will be balloted over a new phased pay offer of 3 per cent by the end of the year.
The University and College Union, the largest lecturers' union, will tell members that the offer is the best that they can get through negotiation.
"There have been some hard negotiations since the initial 1.5 per cent derisory offer in March," Barry Lovejoy, UCU's head of colleges, said.
The union's FE committee, then part of Natfhe, which has been replaced by the new UCU, was heavily criticised by members at the annual conference last month for failing to keep up the pressure on employers.
Originally, the union had called for a 7 per cent increase to begin to close the 10 per cent pay gap with school teachers.
This year's offer is higher than the rise for school teachers, but will not immediately close the gap.
With 2 per cent being paid immediately in August, and a further 1 per cent increase in February next year, lecturers are effectively getting a 2.5 per cent rise over the first 12 months. That matches the schoolteachers' pay offer exactly over the course of the year, preventing the gap further.
The phasing was designed to make the increase more affordable for colleges.
The Association of Colleges and the unions are also offering advice to any colleges which say they cannot afford the deal.
Peter Pendle, general secretary of the Association of College Management, said: "This is a reasonable settlement in the circumstances.
"Colleges are facing a difficult financial future as a result of the Government's funding policies."
The ACM and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers are recommending that the offer is accepted. Unison is also telling its members the offer is the best that can be achieved without striking.
Martin Freedman, head of pay at the ATL, said: "The real test will be when colleges actually come to implement the increase and pay modernisation."
The AoC said it was pleased to have reached a "positive conclusion."
Results of the UCU ballot are due to be announced on July 14.