Exam board errors cause college chaos

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The Independent Online
Thousands of students taking vocational A-levels have still not had their university places confirmed, it emerged last night. Administrative errors and hold-ups by both examination boards and schools have contributed to the problem.

One board sent out 850 students' results containing mistakes and had to fax every university in the country to withdraw them again.

Almost 4,700 candidates, one-quarter of those offered uni- versity places with General National Vocational Qualifications (GNVQs), have not had official notification of their results. Universities have been forced to hold students' places open even though they may have failed to complete their courses.

Last night, one admissions tutor said that the future of the new GNVQs could be endangered by the problems. Students looking for places through the clearing system could not compete with A-level candidates because they could not prove their results, he said. And universities and colleges could not free up spare places for other candidates because they did not know whether GNVQ students were going to take them up or not.Cajitin D'Silva, projects manager in charge of GNVQ admissions for Anglia Polytechnic University, said he planned to complain. As numbers taking the exams increased the problems would get worse, he added. "We feel all the hard work done by all those involved and even the qualification itself could be jeopardised," he said.

Nigel Scott, operations director of the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) examinations board, said that there had been some teething troubles - the exams were introduced in 1992 but results have been processed through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (Ucas) for the first time this year.

Wrong information sent out on half the 1,700 RSA candidates had been withdrawn within hours, Mr Scott said. "In a process as important as this we will obviously review it and discuss how anything that has caused some problems can be made to work better," he said.

A total of 243,991 students have now had places confirmed for this year, 1,900 more than at the same time last year. Full details of places still available through clearing are published with today's Independent.

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