Student data restricted

March 26, 1999

The number of applications that prospective students make to each institution will be published just three times each year, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service has decreed.

UCAS had previously released the confidential data, which allows comparisons between institutions, fortnightly throughout the applications cycle.

But on February 25, Tony Higgins, UCAS chief executive, threatened to withdraw the service after the applications digest for February 12 was leaked to The THES. He argued that the leaking of application numbers could influence the choices made by future applicants.

The UCAS board last week decided to publish the information first on December 15, the normal applications deadline. The second date is March 24, the deadline for applications for art and design courses through "route B" - a system that allows prospective students to be interviewed by four institutions in order of preference. The third, May 16, is effectively a second deadline for late applications.

John Craven, vice-chancellor of Portsmouth University, said it was useful to get a monthly digest. "It is more useful to know information than to hide it."

No other vice-chancellor wished to comment. A UCAS spokesman said that institutions would receive as much detail as had been contained in the old applications digest.

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