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Brown goes back home to unveil bank package

GORDON Brown, the Chancellor, went to his Dunfermline East constituency on Monday when he unveiled a new pound;1.7 million package funded by the Royal Bank of Scotland to encourage more underprivileged students to take up university places.

Mr Brown chose as the venue Lochgelly High, where only 15 per cent of pupils went into higher education last year compared with the Fife and Scottish averages of 31 per cent.

The bank will target its cash at the five universities which have traditionally taken the least students from disadvantaged backgrounds - Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and St Andrews.

They will receive the money over four years to support 300 students already at the institutions and 1,00 who attend the universities' summer schools. As an added incentive, the bank has pledged a job interview to all participating graduates.

Mr Brown, who has condemned "Oxbridge elitism" in higher education, drew on American experience, as he frequently does, to point to the importance of summer schools and positive recruitment.

Henry McLeish, the First Minister, said at the launch that there should be no incompatibility between wider access and raising standards.

Viscount Younger of Leckie, chairman of the Royal Bank and a former Scottish Secretary, reinforced the "quality and quantity" message, observing that "the best and brightest students come from all sections of the community".

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