further and higher education have combined to establish a pound;4 million fund to help students progress from college to university.
The funding councils for both sectors this week invited bids for grants as part of their attempt to give more opportunities for disadvantaged students.
Funds have been allocated to the nine Further Education Funding Council regions according to need - measured by the number of young people from deprived areas who do not enter HE - but the initiative is aimed at all ages.
Activities eligible for support include the development of summer schools to target potential students; mentoring schemes designed to ensure retention on HE programmes; and strategies to increase the participation of Afro-Caribbean men and Bangladeshi and Pakistani women.
Professor David Melville, the FEFC's chief executive, said: "The drive to widen participation has been a priority for further education ever since the publication of the Kennedy report. It is essential that students from all backgrounds be given opportunities to progress to the highest level.
"This new co-ordinated effort will build on the good work already achieved, and will help ensure that those who can progress realise their potential."
Applications for proposals are invited by October.