Belfast Telegraph

University's shambles can't be repeated

At a time when students are being judged on their examination results, the University of Ulster has failed miserably in its own test of dealing efficiently with applicants for places in its Faculty of Computing and Engineering.

By informing 370 students that they had been accepted and then reversing that decision shortly afterwards, the university placed these young people and their families under great stress, and also did no favours to its own reputation. To add to the embarrassment, the university announced that the mistake was due to an IT-related issue. If they cannot get their entrance procedures right because of a technology issue, how on earth can they hope to impress people as a centre of excellence for computing and engineering? Once again the pitfalls of modern technology have been highlighted, as in the case of the Ulster Bank, which still continues to have ramifications for its unfortunate customers.

The University of Ulster tried to speed up communication with its prospective students this year by using the new technology, but this backfired badly.

To add insult to injury, some have accused the university of being slow to deal with the debacle.

The Vice-Chancellor Professor Richard Barnett has apologised and admitted: "Perhaps we should have anticipated that people would want to call then and there."

The Dean of the Faculty Professor Richard Millar provided stated that the error only affected applicants for the School of Engineering at Jordanstown, but unfortunately this will not be much mitigation for the distress of the 370 young people concerned.

The university authorities have apologised profusely, and rightly so, but that is scant comfort for those who have had their hopes raised and dashed.

Human and technological errors happen despite best intentions, but the university must do all it can to assist those students who need help. Urgent enquiries are also needed to ensure that such a distressing shambles will not occur again.

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