Nursing board is in hot water after glitch

August 31, 2001

Ireland's normally efficient college admissions process got off to a shaky start this month when 200 offers of places on nursing courses went to the wrong people.

The courses were included for the first time in the Central Applications Office system. Things went awry when offers were sent out to mature applicants who had faced interviews and tests.

Instead of going to the applicants at the top of the merit list, the offers went to those at the bottom.

An Bord Altranais, the nursing board that was responsible for the error, decided that the offers could not be withdrawn. It instructed the CAO to issue a further 200 offers to those at the top of the list.

While the official reason why the offers could not be withdrawn was that it would be a "cruel injustice", it is likely that the board would have been taken to court if it tried to withdraw offers.

When details of the error were leaked to a Dublin newspaper, it provoked anger among the hundreds of mature applicants who fell in the middle of the list and did not receive offers. Most were mothers who responded to a government advertising campaign to encourage applicants.

Some of those who fell in the middle are obtaining legal advice and warn that they might launch court action if they do not get places The board is under pressure to make offers to all the applicants. But if it does, this could put pressure on places for school leavers, which would cause an even bigger furore.

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