Scots in spin over delay to results

August 11, 2000

Scottish higher education admissions staff were facing turmoil this week as a result of the Scottish Qualifications Authority's delay in issuing applicants' Higher examination results.

This year's implementation of Scotland's radical new Higher Still system, which brings together academic and vocational qualifications, has been bedevilled by computer glitches and administrative problems.

The SQA tried to ensure that virtually all students received their exam results yesterday, but failed to send the results to the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service until Wednesday.

Institutions normally receive advance notice of the Highers results from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service on Monday, enabling admissions staff to check how many applicants have met the entrance requirements, and how many places are left for borderline candidates. They can then deal with applicants' calls on Thursday.

Gordon Craig, Dundee University's director of admissions and student recruitment, said: "We are facing having to do two to three days' work in two to three hours. The SQA has made it very, very difficult for the institutions, and the danger is that we get the flak."

James Brown, Glasgow University's director of admissions, predicted that candidates would have "another anxious weekend" as Glasgow began dealing with 2,200 conditional applications.

"We are disappointed that the SQA hasn't seen fit to advise institutions that they were going to send the results late and we have had to rely on Ucas to keep us informed," he said.

Dennis Gunning, the SQA's director of development, this week sent a letter of apology to institutions over the delay, but said the SQA had kept in touch with the Committee of Scottish Higher Education Principals.

"This is probably the most complex change to the qualifications system in Scotland we have ever had to deal with," he said. "We had a little bit of difficulty in the data-processing system, and are still missing one or two pieces of data. We were trying to hold off as late as possible giving data to Ucas in order to make it as full as possible."

Mr Gunning admitted that some 1,000 candidates would not have received complete certificates yesterday. Contact the SQA helpline on 01835 822954 or email HE.queries@sqa.org.uk.

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