Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 26 July 2014

UU hires staff to cope with student rise after blunder

An email blunder at the University of Ulster (UU) has led to a record enrolment of full-time first-year undergraduate students in its School of Engineering.

A total of 289 students accepted places in the School of Engineering — 94 more than the university had budgeted for.

Every student who had applied for a place in the School of Engineering at Jordanstown — including those who had not achieved the necessary grades — was inadvertently offered a place.

The mistake occurred after 370 emails were sent out by the university informing all applicants that they been successful in gaining a place at UU following the publication of the A-Level results in August.

However, six hours later a second email was sent to students advising them that in fact no decision had yet been made.

The university, which held its hands up to the mistake immediately, believed it had a moral obligation to stand over the original offers — despite the correct decision appearing on the Universities and Colleges Admission Service (UCAS) system.

It has meant that 29 students are now undertaking a new foundation year while the remaining 65 are studying for one of 14 degrees available in the School of Engineering.

University of Ulster has also had to take on three additional members of staff to cater for the extra students.

However, it will not be known until December 1 whether the UU has overshot its maximum student numbers (MaSN), a cap set by the Department for Employment and Learning.

For every additional student universities admit beyond their MaSN cap, they are penalised by the DEL. Since 2008/09 UU has lost £2,067,079 in grant support for admitting 1,672 extra students.

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An internal review into the email error at the University of Ulster is currently under way. Auditors KPMG are carrying out the investigation, which is expected to be concluded before Christmas. It is expected to reveal whether the mistake was a result of a computer glitch or human error. The Department for Employment and Learning demanded a probe.

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