Posing as a prospective student with very low grades, THES reporter Natasha Loder tried to get onto physics and history degree courses for 1998-99.
Despite a D in maths, an E in physics and a U in chemistry it was surprisingly easy to get onto a physics course.
The University of Northumbria and Nottingham Trent University gave me an unqualified "yes". The University of Teesside, in the absence of a physics course, was able to offer a place doing mechanical engineering.
University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, was more circumspect - it wanted to know why my physics grade was so low. On offering, rather lamely, the excuse that I was ill during the course, the college tutor said that it might be possible for me to get a place if I came for interview to discuss my "poor physics result". UCW would pay my train fare.
Of eight universities, only Heriot-Watt University gave an unqualified 'no' to my grades. Three universities said their courses were full - but the University of Warwick may have been letting me down gently. I called back later with rather improved grades and was promised that a course tutor would get back to me.
For history degrees, the story was very different. Most of the same universities were already full. Those that were not were uninterested in my E grade history and U grade English. The University of Teesside, which was happy to take me for a science degree, gave me a straight "no" for history.
It looks like my low grades will take me into the sciences rather than the arts.