One in five said that they or their school had never considered university as an option. Social class was not a major barrier with fewer than one in 10 saying they had not gone because "they weren't posh enough".
As might be expected, the poll confirmed that just under one in three adults were ruled out because their qualifications were not good enough.
Some 29 per cent did not bother to go to university because they already had a job and almost one in five was fed up studying. Family advice stopped one in five from going and 17 per cent admitted they were suffering from a "lack of direction" at the crucial decision time.
Royal Bank itself is sponsoring 75 students to take up a place.
Amanda Ford, 36, from Midlothian, said: "I always felt that there was something missing. Coming from a family of non-academics, I was never encouraged to fulfil my potential in education and it took me another 20 years to realise I could actually take the steps to undertake a degree and fill in that missing link."
Most people would choose to study social sciences, followed by history and engineering.