The Royal Bank of Scotland is giving more than £1.7 million to help widen access at five leading Scottish universities.
Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and St Andrews universities will each win £240,000 for student bursaries and £100,000 for summer schools. The scheme was launched by chancellor Gordon Brown at Lochgelly High School in his constituency of Dunfermline East.
The scheme aims to help about 2,000 pupils - 300 going to university and 1,700 going to summer school - who would otherwise be discouraged for economic or social reasons. Both schemes will run for four years.
The access bursaries will give £1,000 a year to 60 undergraduates at each university for the duration of their courses. The summer school funds will support 340 pupils annually at each university.
Wendy Alexander, Scotland's minister for enterprise and lifelong learning, wants a revamped higher education funding system to reward institutions that attract students from under-represented groups.
Ms Alexander yesterday issued guidance to the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council that highlights an £18 million funding boost for wider access over the next three years. Some £5 million will fund an extra 800 places on top of 2,000 already agreed, but Ms Alexander wants to see the bulk of the increase distributed through the Shefc's core funding formula.