PLANS for a higher education bursary providing financial help for all university students from Cornwall have taken a step forward.
The proposed scheme, to be available from September, 2014, was backed by Cornwall Council's Cabinet last week.
It comes after the council unveiled plans for a further education scheme to help young people in Cornwall.
Both programmes, the first to be introduced by any local council in the country, are aimed at encouraging more young people into further and higher education.
The council has also announced plans to create 200 apprenticeships within its departments.
Council leader Alec Robertson said: "This is a very difficult time for young people who are bearing the brunt of the impact of the economic recession with spiralling levels of youth unemployment.
"At the same time, the abolition of the education maintenance allowance and the increase in university tuition fees means that many young people are being put off staying in education and training and gaining the skills and qualifications which are vital for their futures, and for the economic growth Cornwall needs."
Cabinet member for education Neil Burden added: "This is the start of a 'new deal' for our young people.
"Although the number of young people from Cornwall going to university has increased in recent years, it is still lower than the national average, particularly with regard to the numbers attending the more selective universities. We want to ensure they reach their full potential."
The higher education scheme will also encourage people to study courses which could help the Cornish economy in key sectors being developed in the county.
The scheme has received the support of universities including Bristol, Exeter, Manchester, Cardiff and Plymouth.
Professor Sir Steve Smith, vice-chancellor of Exeter University, said: "Cornwall Council is to be commended for guaranteeing support for any student in Cornwall who wants to go to university and targeting some of that support at the top 30 universities.
"The most powerful is the fact ... it says that in Cornwall we expect everyone to consider going to university and we will give you extra financial support on top of what is available nationally. That is an important and immensely helpful message."
The council has identified £1 million from existing resources to support the scheme in the first year, rising to £3 million in 2016-17.
Subject to confirmation of European funding, the scheme is due to be introduced in 2014-15 and is expected to support up to 4,000 students per year.