UNIVERSITIES across Scotland will seek to recruit more students from colleges as part of moves to widen access to pupils from deprived communities.

The move – known as articulation – is one of a number of strategies institutions will adopt to improve participation rates.

Universities will also make greater use of contextualised data when processing applications – where a student's background is assessed in addition to their academic performance.

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However, it is unclear whether more universities will adopt the approach taken by Glasgow where students can be allowed in with lower grades if they complete a rigorous entry course. Earlier this year, the Scottish Government announced new outcome agreements for universities that will see them set targets to widen access.

The move followed concern that many institutions were failing to attract enough talented students from poor backgrounds. Set to be published this month, the outcome agreements will detail how each university intends to widen access.

A spokeswoman for Universities Scotland said contextualised entry would not give students from poorer backgrounds an advantage over other students.

"All university principals are committed to widening access to pupils that have the academic potential to benefit, and this is one way within universities' control to help achieve greater progress in this area," she said.

"Contextual admissions is far more subtle than is often recognised. It is not about giving some students an advantage over others. It simply goes a small way towards balancing opportunities that have not been equal for all pupils in their schooling."

The spokeswoman welcomed the move towards recruiting college students studying HND and HNC qualifications – the equivalent of the first or second year of university study.

"A number of universities will be looking to increase the number of entrants direct from college by increasing the number of places available," she said."This has the potential to reach a more mature cohort of students from a diverse range of backgrounds."

Robin Parker, president of NUS Scotland, also welcomed the move, stating: "Recruiting from colleges must be a priority for the sector."