Anger as University of Ulster ‘computer glitch’ leaves 400 with uncertain futures

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Friday, August 17th, 2012
Community, News
There was widespread anger today after it emerged that some 400 young people in Northern Ireland have had their ‘unconditional offers’ for a place at the University of Ulster withdrawn.

The University of Ulster has apologized for the computer glitch which has left 400 young people with uncertain futures

The news comes on the back of the celebrations of local students, who were this week expressing their delight at achieving outstanding A-Level results and preparing for university life, which was set to begin for next month. The affected students had initially applied for the Computing and Engineering course in the University of Ulster and all 400 were told just hours later their unconditional offers had been withdrawn because of a ‘computer glitch’. Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster’s Nolan Show today, the dean of the faculty of computing and engineering, Professor Richard Millar said the email was sent out to all live applicants in the system regardless of what results they had achieved. Professor Millar explained, “We normally carried out the acceptance process by postal service and this is the first time where we tried this new system of communication with applicants by email. Clearly things have gone wrong and that’s something we would want to put right and we will put additional checks in place to ensure that this is not repeated.” Millar insisted the University of Ulster could not right this wrong by honouring all 400 applicant’s unconditional offers because of funding and space limitations. “I would love to be in a situation where we could tell these applicants, yes, we will stand over this and honour this, however that is not going to happen.”

South Down MLA Sean Rogers described it as a ‘totally shambolic situation’

SDLP Education spokesperson Sean Rogers however, called on the DEL minister to intervene in the debacle, stating that the error could jeopardise the future career prospects of hundreds of students. The South Down MLA spoke to Newry Times and described the revelations as a totally shambolic situation which has left many students and their families upset and uncertain. “Not only have students had the places they were offered withdrawn, but they have also missed a day of clearing to attempt to get into other courses. “This is a major setback for the 400 students directly affected by this error, but could have a domino effect on other students hoping to get other university places and could jeopardise the future career prospects of hundreds of young people.” Rogers added, “This is a stressful enough time for teenagers and their families without these kinds of mess-ups. I urge the DEL Minister to intervene and sort out this blunder giving the students affected all the help, support and guidance which they desperately need at this distressing time.”

Hazzard believes the University of Ulster must clarify the situation

Sinn Féin MLA Chris Hazzard echoed Roger’s sentiments. He also called on the University of Ulster to immediately clarify to individual students whether they have or haven’t been offered places at the campus. Hazzard stated, “Not only has this caused immense disappointment amongst the students but also created uncertainty and confusion as to who is actually going to be offered a place at the university.” He added, “The University of Ulster needs to clarify to the students immediately at to which offer is genuine and make sure this will not be allowed to happen again.”
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