An email was mistakenly sent out to "several thousand" people congratulating them on getting a place at a university, it emerged today.
A member of staff at the University of Sussex accidentally sent the email, which was meant to be a test, to thousands of people on its address list.
A second email recalling the message was sent out hours later as soon as the mistake was realised.
Most of those who received the email, which welcomed them to the School of Education and Social Work, had not even applied for a place.
Students already studying at the university and applicants from previous years were also recipients.
A spokesman for the university stressed that the email was not an offer of a place, but a message welcoming them in the name of one of its heads of school and most people would have realised straight away it was not meant for them.
He said the mistake was down to human error as the wrong filter was applied to the message when sending it.
He said: "We have offered our apologies to people who received a test 'welcome' email by mistake on Thursday evening.
"The error arose while new enquiries systems were being tested. We acted immediately to recall the email and to correct any misunderstanding that had occurred.
"People then opening their emails on Friday morning would have seen the recall email in their inboxes first, which made clear the original email was a mistake and was in any case not an official offer of a place.
"Our offers are made to candidates in the normal way through UCAS for undergraduate applicants, and by a formal letter from our admissions team for postgraduates.
"Of those who replied to us, most did so with good humour and understanding, since it was so clearly a mistake coming to them from one particular school of studies unconnected with their own subject of study."
The university, which was ranked in 19th place in the recent Complete University Guide, has announced it plans to charge the maximum tuition fees of £9,000 from next year.Reuse content