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20,000 students in limbo after A-level results shambles

By Lindsay Fergus

Up to 20,000 Northern Ireland students were left in limbo yesterday when the official website which tells them whether their grades have earned them a university place crashed because it was inundated with inquiries.

Ucas' track service was shut at 8.40am - less than two hours after pupils started getting their A-level results - due to unprecedented demand of 450 hits per second.

It took university admissions service Ucas three hours to sort out the problem but many students were still reporting difficulties several hours later.

One of those affected by the malfunction of the online service was Regent House pupil Jordan Millar who got six A*.

The top Newtownards student was unable to gain access to accept his offer to study maths at Cambridge University's Trinity College.

Track started encountering problems after traffic to the site quadrupled.

In a statement Ucas apologised to students: "Traffic to the Ucas track website is four times the peak per second compared to last year.

"In order to secure a full service, we have taken the site down for a short time.

"Full service will be resumed shortly and we apologise for any inconvenience."

Ucas insisted that students' ability to choose a clearing place will not be affected by the closure.

The sudden website closure came as about 250,000 teenagers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland all received A-level results.

Liam Burns, president of the National Union of Students, said: "At an already stressful time, technical difficulties don't help, and we hope for a very speedy resolution."

Useful addresses to visit for help, advice and information on places:


Clearing or university helpline, 0871 468 0 468

Exam results helpline, 0808 100 8000


Helpline, 028 9026 1260 or email


Call 0300 200 7820 to find your nearest careers adviser

QUEEN'S university - advice line, 028 9097 3838

UNIVERSITY OF ULSTER - helpline, 028 7028 7028

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