A SCOTTISH university will employ teachers for the first time in a £1 million project to enable school pupils from deprived areas to take Advanced Higher qualifications.
Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) will use the cash to establish a campus centre for pupils from 15 secondary schools across Glasgow.
Under a partnership with Glasgow City Council, the hub will offer up to 200 pupils a year Advanced Higher courses in English, maths, chemistry, physics, biology, computing, modern studies, business management and history.
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Pupils will travel from school to the university to study the courses and those who do well will be given advanced standing to degree courses as part of moves to widen access.
The centre is particularly innovative as the university will employ a team of teachers on a part-time basis to deliver the Advanced Highers. The initiative, which is backed by the Scottish Funding Council (SFC), comes amid growing concern over the availability of Advanced Highers.
The qualification is increasingly seen as the best preparation for university and adds considerable weight to a further education application.
However, access to Advanced Higher subjects can be limited in schools where few pupils want to take them. That means pupils in middle- class areas or private schools can have a full range to choose from, compared to pupils in more deprived areas.
A GCU spokeswoman said a rising number of children were staying on to S6, but fewer than one in 10 will go on to study an Advanced Higher – in some cases due to a lack of choice.
She said: "It is hoped pupils will benefit from a wider choice of university or college opportunities and be better prepared academically for their first year of continuing education.
"Pupils will have access to GCU's excellent library, laboratory and technology facilities, plus support with application and admission to university and entry at advanced standing to GCU programmes in relevant subjects."
Eleanor Wilson, GCU's director of UK recruitment, added: "This is an amazing opportunity for GCU and Glasgow secondary schools to further cement existing relationships as part of the university's commitment to the common good.
"The hub will provide new opportunities to senior pupils in Glasgow to study at Advanced Higher level, but with the added benefit of having the university facilities at their disposal."
Stephen Curran, the council's executive member for education, said: "This is a fantastic opportunity for our young people.
"Not only will this initiative expand the number and range of Advanced Higher courses on offer, it will also give S6 pupils the chance to experience learning within a higher education environment. This will stand them in good stead and will provide additional encouragement when they are deciding their further education plans."
The Advanced Highers Hub is part of GCU's ongoing commitment to widening access to higher education, with 34% of the university's undergraduates already from disadvantaged backgrounds, compared with a Scottish average of 27%.
Classes will be held during the school day and GCU and the council will pay for pupils' travel expenses.
Recruitment of Advanced Higher teaching staff will begin in March and the first classes will begin in August.