Napier University. Napier University has helped people from some of Edinburgh's most disadvantaged areas to discover their artistic talent and potential for higher education. Its NUstART initiative, which is run in areas where university attendance is not the norm, offers drop-in workshops for people of all ages throughout the week. These regularly attract about 80 aspiring artists, and there are plans to set up more groups in Edinburgh and the Lothians. Earlier this year, NUstART artists sold more than 50 paintings with a total value of £4,000 and raised £1,250 for charity.
NUstART has six accredited modules that help people enter degree courses at Napier or elsewhere. There are plans for spin-off ventures such as a permanent gallery.
One judge, David Watson, professor of higher education management at the Institute of Education, University of London, and former vice-chancellor of Brighton University, said: "This is a highly original programme that has established a strong network of external partners. Its impact is clear and likely to increase further in the future."
Fellow judge Deian Hopkin, vice-chancellor of London South Bank University, said: "This scheme is high on innovation. It has a real edge to it and a strong focus on the student."
Representing the award's sponsors, David Eastwood, chief executive of the Higher Education Funding Council for England, said: "I am delighted to see Napier University win this award for a scheme that helps people build their self-esteem and discover their creativity through painting and drawing. It is an excellent example of an innovative scheme that has had a real impact on students' lives and their progression to higher education."
The panel highly commended the University of the Arts London, which teamed up with the Central School of Speech and Drama to run a men-only summer school in fashion, design and higher education. The project deserves praise, said Eastwood, because fashion is "a subject into which it is particularly difficult to recruit men".