With fees up and applications down, universities are frantically trying to find ways to attract the students of tomorrow. New rules mean they can charge up to £9, 000 - but only if they prove they are successfully recruiting students from poorer backgrounds.
Figures show the number of students from the most disadvantaged backgrounds going to university has increased by 30 per cent in the last five years. But according to them it's still not enough - they say a quarter of universities still aren't meeting targets on getting more poorer students to study for degrees.
Our social affairs correspondent Christine Alsford reports on how one university in the South is running a programme to target younger people who might never have thought about becoming undergraduates.