UCAS drops applications bulletin after press leak

February 26, 1999

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service came under fire this week after it cancelled an institutional applications bulletin following leaks to the press.

Vice-chancellors and senior managers have attacked the move by Tony Higgins, chief executive of UCAS, to withdraw the fortnightly applications digest. The digest, issued confidentially, lists applications by institution, allowing comparisons.

A leaked letter, dated last Thursday and signed by Mr Higgins, also threatened to withhold institutions' own applications figures. Mr Higgins's decision was sparked by the leaking last Tuesday to The THES of the applications figures as they stood on February 12.

The digest shows wide disparities in numbers of applications by institution. Mr Higgins said publishing them could influence the choices made by future applicants.

The UCAS letter, written the day before The THES was published, said:

"Because of the continuation of these leaks, and the difficulties which many universities and colleges are now experiencing in dealing with external inquiries about a confidential document, I have decided, after consultation with the chairman, that the applications digest will no longer be issued."

Derek Crothall, pro vice-chancellor of Lincolnshire and Humberside University, called the UCAS decision regrettable. Geoffrey Copland, vice-chancellor of Westminster University, and Alan Wilson, vice-chancellor of Leeds were also disappointed.

A Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals spokeswoman said vice-chancellors should take the matter up with UCAS.

A UCAS spokesman said institutions would still be able to apply for comparative figures, which could come at a cost, through the Institutional Planning Service.

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