THE University of Abertay Dundee has launched a recruitment drive aimed at 12-year-olds.
An agreement signed by the pupil, parent, school and university will guarantee the pupil a university place provided that he or she agrees to meet specified academic and behavioural goals while at school. The "Academic Compact Scheme" was launched this week.
Twenty-six secondary pupils from Dundee's Braeview Academy have signed up already and the university plans to extend the initiative to other schools. In many cases pupils will be from families with little or no experience of university education. The criteria for selection include parental support, attendance, timekeeping, completion of homework and involvement in the wider life of the school.
Grahame Wright, UAD's assistant principal, said: "The benefits of education for a 12-year-old seem to be so long term, so far in the future, that they create little incentive or impact on behaviour today."
The scheme was designed to encourage and support the youngsters, helping them to recognise the immediate enjoyment and long-term benefits of education, Mr Wright said. Pupils and their parents will be invited to information and open days at the university, as well as external lectures and other activities, to familiarise themselves with it in advance.
Scottish education minister Brian Wilson said: "One of the government's priorities is to widen participation in higher education. I therefore welcome innovative schemes which seek to encourage young people from less advantaged backgrounds to realise the potential benefits higher education has for them."