University rejects 'ABC' candidate: Student falls foul of entry rules as curb on arts courses increases competition for places

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The Independent Online
WHEN Rohan Acharya picked up his A-level results from school, he was justifiably delighted: an A in English, B in geography, C in French - plus a distinction in English S-level, which is not easy to come by.

But as soon as he reached home to telephone the university offering the degree course of his choice - English and theatre studies, at Warwick - Rohan's hopes collapsed. Warwick's offer was conditional on three Bs, and because he had not achieved precisely that it would not take him.

'I feel really, really annoyed. I was so happy when I got my results, but after I spoke to Warwick I was in complete shock. Obviously I had seen some of the news reports predicting this, but I just couldn't believe it when it happened,' Rohan said yesterday.

It is, of course, no solace to him that his case is a perfect example of the frustration widely predicted this year. In previous years he might have been offered a place, in spite of slipping one grade, because he has achieved the same A-level points score as his offer. Ten points are awarded for an A, 8 for B, 6 for C, 4 for D and 2 for E.

According to the letter of the offer contract, Warwick is at liberty to reject him. John Hogan, the senior assistant registrar, said yesterday: 'I know it must be heartbreaking for him. But for that course we had 362 applications for 17 places. We made 74 offers, all of three Bs. When the A-level results came through, 19 candidates had their three Bs.

'Rohan is one of 10 who, although they gained the same number of A- level points, did not achieve three Bs. We are very careful to make offers on grades, rather than on points.'

He added: 'It's been particularly difficult this year, because of the Government's decision to hold back on expansion of arts and social science courses. There are probably hundreds of candidates across this university alone who have found themselves in exactly the same position.

'The only way universities can avoid having to cause this kind of disappointment is by moving to a system where candidates apply after they have received their A-level grades.'

Rohan's performance in English, his chosen subject, could not be better. He knows he impressed Warwick with his knowledge of theatre, having translated Hindi plays and dabbled in writing a drama himself while studying for his A-levels at King's College School, Wimbledon. 'The thing is, I also got an ABC offer from Leeds to do English, but I chose to hold the Warwick offer because I preferred the place, and the course.'

After speaking to Warwick on Thursday, Rohan telephoned Leeds but it no longer had a place spare. He tried other universities, but they were either full, or it was impossible to get through on the telephone.

Rohan must decide whether to take up an 'insurance' offer - for European literature and philosophy at East Anglia - or take a year out. 'I don't think it's a bad idea to take a year out. But will it be any better next year?'

Mending broken dreams, page 3

Leading article, page 12

(Photograph omitted)