University applicants face delay to exam results

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Up to 1,400 pupils will have to wait for their exam results due out today because of problems with a new computer system.

Up to 1,400 pupils will have to wait for their exam results due out today because of problems with a new computer system.

Others might have to wait longer than they expected for universities to confirm their places after difficulties in processing results for Scottish Highers.

Results for about 1 per cent of the candidates who sat Higher, Standard Grade and Intermediate exams could be incomplete, Ron Tuck, chief executive of the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) admitted. And, because the authority was two days late in passing all the Higher results to the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (Ucas), students who have just missed their grades will have to wait to hear whether their places have been confirmed.

A Ucas spokesman said: 'We are concerned about the extra stress this will cause students at a worrying time. But our advice is that people should not panic because everyone is in the same boat.

"Applicants who have got the right grades don't need to do anything. We will be writing to confirm their places in the next few days. Those who have just missed the grades would normally ring the university to ask whether their place is confirmed. We are advising them to wait a day or two before making the call. We would recommend that those whose results are incomplete should contact the university."

In the long term, he emphasised, the delay should make no difference.

Universities and colleges in both England and Scotland have been warned about the delays, the qualifications authority said. Mr Tuck said: "We accept full responsibility for everything that has happened. We had to introduce a whole range of new qualifications, which means the documents and all the systems concerned with it."

The Independent is today publishing the only official Ucas clearing lists of available places at universities and colleges throughout Scotland. They will be published again in The Independent on Sunday on 13 August. To help students make the right decision, The Independent is also publishing a series of supplements.

Mr Tuck said ministers had been told of the problems and had offered help to sort out the system. Sam Galbraith, the Minister for Education, said that an independent audit by external consultants, which had been agreed by the SQA, would now report to ministers.

The authority said that the new system of Highers and Intermediate exams was the most complex introduced in Scotland. It would have liked more time to pilot the computer system. A helpline is being set up for pupils who are worried about their missing results on 0141 242 2160.