Students accepted to Ulster in error to get foundation year

Students with “modest” A-level results who were accidentally accepted to courses at the University of Ulster’s School of Engineering are to be given places on a foundation year to help them prepare for their degree.

August 20, 2012

On 17 August, 370 applicants received an email offering them a place, when in fact the university said it was still considering their applications. It blamed a “computer error” and apologised for the mistake.

The following day, the university announced that it would be able to honour all the offers, except 20 made to students who had not yet submitted complete examination results.

Richard Millar, dean of the Faculty of Computing and Engineering, said that “all applicants that received the congratulatory email in error from the faculty, and for whom the university has a full set of examination results, are now having their place in the university confirmed”.

This means that the university is now likely to overshoot its student number quota set by the Department for Employment and Learning in Northern Ireland, which may result in a financial penalty, said Professor Millar.

“In the light of the extra student numbers we are now admitting, the university will put in place additional teaching and pastoral support,” he said.

However, it emerged today that Ulster will introduce an engineering foundation year for those with “more modest” A-levels who were accidentally given offers.

Richard Barnett, the vice-chancellor, told the BBC that there would be “some students who we believe do not have the qualifications to go on to the honours degree”.

“If they work hard they'll be able to progress to the honours degree,” he said.

The development comes as the University and Colleges Admissions Service released the latest statistics on how many students have been accepted on to courses across the UK.

As of midday on 20 August, a total of 399,158 students had found a place, compared with 425,487 at the same point in the clearing process last year.

Most of this drop has occurred in England, where just over 25,000 fewer students have found a place on a course compared with the same point last year, a fall of 7.1 per cent.

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