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'Disadvantaged' A-level pupils offered free tuition to help get into university

A-level pupils from poorer backgrounds will be offered free tuition to help get them into university in an effort to increase diversity.

The University of Birmingham is piloting a scheme through an online tutor company to give 100 youngsters 10 hours of teaching for exams they will sit in the summer, the Daily Telegraph said.

The university already runs Access to Birmingham, a programme to help more local children from deprived backgrounds take another step in education.

Qualifying criteria include having parents with no experience of higher education themselves, living in areas in which few people go to university and having spent time in care.

Birmingham has already lowered its entry requirements for applicants coming through the scheme, making them two grades below the norm, but it has still found students are struggling.

Only around one in three pupils on the programme achieve the necessary marks, so places for pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds are often re-allocated to other children, the Daily Telegraph said.

The university hopes the online tutoring will help boost pupils' chances of attaining the entry grades.

Gail Rothnie, head of outreach at the University of Birmingham, said: "Every year there are a significant number who don't achieve their offer.

"There are a large number of students who don't meet their predicted grades. We want to do our part to help students meet their offers. For students from more advantaged backgrounds, their family may well be paying for tutors."

If the trial is successful Birmingham university plans to widen it.

James Grant, founder of the MyTutor online teaching company, said universities in Yorkshire, including Leeds and Huddersfield, are also interested in investing in extra tutoring for children.

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