Ucas admits results fiasco

August 16, 2002

There could be more than 10,000 errors in offer letters sent to Scottish university applicants, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service has admitted. Glasgow Caledonian University alone has received 800 corrected results.

David Caldwell, director of Universities Scotland, said: "We will be looking to Ucas to provide a report on what went wrong and what can be done to make sure no similar mistake occurs again."

Ucas said it had sent incorrect letters to about 1,000 applicants who had a fallback or compensatory award for Highers or Advanced Highers. It had incorrectly processed the results of a C pass.

Grahame Wright, deputy principal of the University of Abertay Dundee, said:

"We are still working with Ucas to identify the scale of the problem and we cannot say how many individuals might be affected."

Aberdeen University has led the way in reassuring anxious school-leavers, pledging to stand by offers already made. Marketing director Lori Manders said: "In a tiny number of cases where a professional body stipulates grades, the offer will be reviewed and other conditions attached."

Ucas also misinterpreted other information from the Scottish Qualifications Authority, last week claiming a substantial rise in the number of "x" grades or no awards given to candidates.

A spokesman for the SQA said these were planned open-ended results that would be timetabled later for individual students by individual colleges and were not a cause for concern.

"Ucas, both in the case of the open entries and in the case of these fallback awards, has acknowledged that there has been no problem whatsoever with the integrity of the information and data supplied by the SQA and the problem is entirely within the Ucas side of activity," the SQA spokesman said.

SQA's executives will be meeting their Ucas counterparts early next month, he said. "We want to explore ways of ensuring that Scottish candidates are not disadvantaged again."

Ucas said it was writing to applicants who had received letters based on incorrect results, and the indications were that the vast majority would have the original decisions confirmed. A file of corrected SQA results had been transmitted to universities and colleges, it said. Tony Higgins, Ucas chief executive said the clearing process had not been affected.

"Our first priority was to take action to ensure that SQA candidates and universities and colleges had accurate and correct information. We are now in a position to conduct an inquiry to ascertain what happened," he said.

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