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Education: Students upset by clearing stress

A number of universities failed to fill degree course vacancies during the "clearing" period because of their slipshod, unprofessional attitude towards applicants, according to a report due to be published this week.

Students who lost a place at the university of their choice because they had failed to achieve the necessary A-level grades, found themselves subjected to further misery at the hands of inexperienced, untrained staff at places with vacancies.

The survey, conducted by Riley and Greyling, a Manchester-based marketing company, said that some students who responded within minutes of seeing places advertised in newspapers were fobbed off on the telephone by staff who were "not very knowledgeable or helpful". Many were told spaces had already been filled or that they needed specific A grades rather than the equivalent in points.

The "snapshot" survey, claimed to be the first to examine what school leavers experienced both before and after the clearing period, was conducted among students in London, the Midlands and the North of England. Careers teachers said colleges should be more aware of the "stressful time" callers to their hotlines were experiencing.

The complete survey findings are to be disclosed at Clearing '97 to be launched in Nottingham tomorrow.