Students will have to undergo personality and aptitude tests under government proposals to give working-class children the opportunity to study at top universities.
Charles Clarke, the Education Secretary, will set out the role of the new "access regulator" later this month, outlining the ways in which universities should broaden their admissions criteria.
Despite allegations, immediately denied, that some of the top universities were discriminating against pupils from fee-paying schools, Mr Clarke is determined that entry should not be decided by exam results alone.
The Government wants to encourage universities to seek talent from all social classes and all types of school, threatening to prevent them charging pounds 3,000 top-up fees if they don't.
The document to be distributed to universities will include ideas drawn from business, including psychometric testing. Other ideas include using SAT tests, and a range of interviews, not all of them formal, to make sure young people from backgrounds that have not traditionally gone on to university get a fair chance to do so.
Tony Blair appeared to undermine that aim earlier this week when, as one Labour MP put it, he "pandered to the middle classes and the tabloid press" by insisting places must be given on merit.
A spokesman for Bristol University, which has been accused of discriminating against pupils from …