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Friday, 20 September, 2002, 08:00 GMT 09:00 UK
University places hang in the balance
Manchester University
Students are wondering if they made the grade
Thousands of A-level pupils are anxiously waiting to find out if they have been awarded correct grades, knowing that any mistakes might have cost them a place at university.

As the re-marking and checking of scripts continues, pupils are bombarding universities with telephone calls and emails to find out where they stand.

The universities say they have a "contractual agreement" with students they have made conditional offers to and that they will honour that.

But many universities are suggesting it will be too late to admit students for this academic year.

The contractual agreement between students offered conditional places and universities means in in practice, that students who find they did get the grades they needed, will be able to take up a place, although some may not be able to do so until the next academic year.

Jacqueline Henshaw.
Jacqueline Henshaw: "We are sympathetic"
Estelle Morris has pledged to fund extra places in universities this academic year if it is practical and has said all pupils who did make the grade will be guaranteed a place at least for the next academic year.

"Universities are determined to get it right for students," she said.

"Their university places will not be affected."

But many universities have said they are already full for this year and will only be able to offer students deferred places.

At Warwick University, a spokesman advised students who were affected to take a year off.

Peter Dunn said Warwick was a campus university and the people who went there wanted to have that experience rather than live out.

Gap year

Dame Ruth Deech, principal of St Anne's College, Oxford and chairwoman of the university's admission's committee, said it was too late to consider taking new students.

She also advised students to take a gap year.

A spokewoman for the university said colleges would aim to offer a deferred place to candidates who found they had met their conditional offers, or if possible, allow them to start this year.

Manchester University has said it will make room for anyone who is re-graded.

Like other universities it is taking many calls from anxious would-be students and their schools.

"It's a critical time for a large number of young people and to have their hopes dashed I guess it's unfortunate." said head of admissions at Manchester, Jacqueline Henshaw.

"We are very sympathetic to those young people and as helpful as we can be."

 Peter Meudell
Peter Meudell: Students won't suffer
University vice-chancellor Peter Meudell says students won't suffer in the long-term from last-minute changes to their course or college.

"Once they come into the university whatever grade they've got we forget about that.

"We take them to do physics, chemistry or English, whatever it might be and hope that they turn out very high quality graduates."

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The alleged A-level grades manipulation

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