A group of Scottish universities that plans to use birthday cards to help widen access has won Pounds 500,000 from the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council.
SHEFC has made wider participation a priority and has pledged an annual Pounds 2.2 million from this month to support schemes to attract entrants from under-represented areas and groups.
Pounds 500,000 goes to the Goals project led by Paisley University. It brings together higher education institutions in the west of Scotland, that will work with 40 local schools which have the poorest rates of pupils going on to higher education.
It aims to promote higher education to pupils from age ten, sending them birthday cards, giving them access to university websites and organising visits to schools by student mentors.
Strathclyde University last year pioneered a summer academy for 14-year-olds from schools with low participation rates.
SHEFC envisages helping to widen access through an extra 500 full-time equivalent student numbers in the coming academic year. The new places will go mainly to part-time students.
SHEFC anticipates handing out Pounds 617 million in grants to institutions in March. It expects to boost both teaching and research assessment exercise based grants by 1.5 per cent. Its research development grant for research to help the Scottish economy should rise by Pounds 2 million to Pounds 12 million.