Cardiff Institute of Higher Education has just launched a compact with eight schools in South Glamorgan which should make degree and diploma courses more accessible to inner city pupils.
Based on an idea developed in the United States to help disadvantaged pupils capitalise on their talents, the Cardiff compact will guarantee higher education places at the institute for interested pupils from the participating schools.
But the institute's compact co-ordinator, Cliff Evans insists that this is not a back door into higher education for low achievers.
"Students will have to obtain two A levels, and will also be expected to have fulfilled the requirements of the compact," he said. "These include punctuality and regular attendance at school; a familiarity with information technology; good communication and problem-solving skills; and well thought-out career plans."
Pupils will be expected to attend "taster" days at the institute and to have done a career-related work placement.
Most of the institute's departments are covered by the deal, so that pupils can choose a variety of disciplines including art and design, health studies, food science, business and management.
It is hoped that disciplines not covered by the compact - teacher training and sport science - will soon join.