The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service is preparing to launch a careers website designed to get school pupils thinking earlier about higher education.
Code-named "Advancement", the project is being backed by the Department for Education and Skills as part of the government's agenda for social inclusion and widening participation in post-school education and training.
The website, planned for next year, will provide advice and information for pupils as young as 12 on how to make choices at GCSE and A level, as well as deciding which higher education courses to aim for.
Ucas hopes eventually to issue all young people with a smart card carrying a personal record of achievement, which could be used in the process of applying for and enrolling on university and college programmes.
The move follows interim findings from a Ucas-coordinated research project that suggests that pupils decide whether they are going to go on to university at the age of 14, or even earlier.
A growing number of universities are working with local schools in a bid to widen participation but few manage to reach out to pupils this young.
Tony Higgins, Ucas chief executive, said the site would help to provide opportunities for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, and to build a lifelong-learning careers advice service.