Three schools of mine engineering in Spain are to waive tuition fees in an attempt to boost falling admissions.
Students who get a mark of more than seven in the university entrance exam will have their first-year fees paid by the Professional Association of Mine Engineers, saving them (721 (Pounds 470).
The initiative is designed to attract more able students to a degree course taken by some 500 students a year at universities in Vigo, Oviedo and Madrid.
"At the moment, practically anyone who applies gets a place," said JesNos Mi$ana, technical secretary of the association. The degree suffers from two problems, according to Enrique Orche, deputy director of mining at the University of Vigo.
First, the name is misleading as the course covers four areas: mining, energy, geology and materials. The low numbers of students and the fact that this training is so generalist make graduates highly employable, Dr Orche said.
The public associates the course only with coal mining, an industry in decline throughout Europe.
To compound the problem, mining generally receives a negative press.
Dr Orche cites television programmes that constantly dwell on "accidents, deaths and widows" when the accident rate is comparable to other sectors such as building.
The decision to waive fees is an unusual step for a higher education system where marketing undergraduate courses is far from the norm and competition between universities for students is almost non-existent.