Realising Opportunities is led by Newcastle University and encourages school and sixth form pupils in year 12 and 13 to attend events and activities that will help them apply to and succeed at a research-intensive university.
The programme was established in 2009 and paid for by the Higher Education Funding Council for England, but since August 2012 has been fully funded by the participating universities. It has so far involved over 1,500 students.
Potential students gain Ucas points by attending the scheme’s events, workshops and summer schools.
The programme also provides undergraduate mentors to inform youngsters about higher education.
Ella Ritchie, Newcastle’s deputy vice-chancellor, said: “It is great news that three new universities are joining the scheme, as it will enable us to reach even more young people who may not have thought about applying to university.”
David Willetts, minister for universities and science, said that the three new universities would “help even more young people from less advantaged backgrounds benefit from the transformational experience of higher education”.
“It is important that young people, regardless of their backgrounds, are inspired to be ambitious as they consider studying at university.
“Programmes like this raise aspirations and attainment, which is why we encourage universities to invest in this type of outreach,” he added in a statement.