Clearing rocks

September 8, 2006

The news that clearing is in "chaos" will come as a surprise to the 356,000 students who so far have had their places confirmed through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service ("Ucas glitch sparks chaos", September 1).

Ucas has indeed introduced new systems this year, designed to meet admission requirements for the 21st century. Implementing any new large computer system is accompanied by a challenging period of adjustment, and that has certainly been the case in this first admissions cycle.

However, this year's clearing statistics offer important balance to the picture you give. As of September 4, 73 per cent of all applicants have had their places confirmed - exactly the same percentage as at this time last year. The number of applicants still awaiting a decision from a university is actually lower than last year and has been since clearing began. The numbers having found a place in clearing have increased by more than 4.5 per cent despite a decline in the number of applicants.

We take any problems that our member universities and colleges have in using our systems extremely seriously. Providing solutions involves much hard work both at Ucas and in institutions.

The fact remains that the published statistics for this year's clearing show that on every indicator students have known their outcomes as fast as last year, if not faster.

Anthony McClaran
Chief executive, Universities and Colleges Admissions Service

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