UNIVERSITIES have been told to make recruiting poorer students a central part of their admissions procedures.

Scottish Education Secretary Michael Russell made the call in his letter to the Scottish Funding Council setting out priorities for the sector for 2015/16.

The Government has already created extra places for widening access to ensure other talented students do not miss out.

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Mr Russell said the additional funded places would not be expanded further, but would be maintained at current levels.

But he added: "These additional places must act as a catalyst for further action by universities to ... opening their doors to a student body that is representative of all of Scotland's communities."

A Universities Scotland spokesman said: "We are engaged with the SFC over widening access that gives a proper account of the diversity of the student population."