The Association for University Teachers advised pupils yesterday not to take a year off and re-apply for the same course next year, hoping that circumstances would improve. Instead, they should try for places on related 1993 courses.
Pupils who gained the right number of A-level points but not in the grades specified in conditional offers are already falling foul of tougher selection criteria. Slight deviations, which would have been unimportant in previous years, are robbing pupils of places.
Monica Hicks, a spokeswoman for the AUT, said that while there would be less chaos next year, entry criteria would be no less stringent. She said this year's candidates had become 'sacrificial lambs' in the Government's drive to push students into science.
'The policy is really quite perplexing,' she said. 'Does the Government expect pupils who began A-level courses last year to switch to science subjects this year because university places will then be easier to secure? It is a nonsense to try to increase interest in science by trying to change things at the top. Efforts should begin in primary schools.'
Yesterday emergency helplines in universities all over the country were being inundated. John Slater, a spokesman for the University of Greenwich, said his institution had received thousands of calls. Many were anxiously awaiting the publication of clearance places which will begin in the Independent and Independent on Sunday starting Wednesday.
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