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Education correspondent Ken Macdonald
"The waiting is almost over for the majority, but for the minority it will continue for a while yet"
 real 56k

Education minister Sam Galbraith
"We need to make sure we have it absolutely right for next time"
 real 56k

Dr Dennis Gunning, SQA
"Our problems stem from the new system of Highers"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 9 August, 2000, 16:54 GMT 17:54 UK
Inquiry into exam results delay
Exams sign
Pupils will learn on Thursday how they fared
The Scottish education minister has ordered an independent inquiry into the Higher exam results delay.

The announcement by Sam Galbraith came as school leavers were warned that some may have to wait until next week to know whether they have a university place.

Mr Galbraith said the delay would affect only a tiny minority of pupils - but stressed that even one was too many.

He gave an assurance that no-one would lose a university place as a result and added that he accepted full responsibility for what had happened.

Sam Galbraith
Sam Galbraith: Accepted full responsibility
The SQA admitted on Tuesday that there had been a delay in posting some vital exam information to university admissions service Ucas.

It should have received details of Higher passes on Monday, but was not expecting to have them until Thursday - the day pupils themselves will find out their results.

Ucas passes the results on to colleges and universities in advance so that they can deal with a flood of enquiries after students find out their results.

Mr Galbraith said: "It's certainly not a fiasco but there will certainly be some pupils whose results will be incomplete.

"It's a small number but I'm very concerned about that. My view is even if it's small, even one's too many.

'Make things better'

"This is a life event for individuals and we have to try and get it right."

Asked whether or not he accepted responsibility for the problem, he said: "The ministers always take the blame, that's our responsibility.

"I don't think it's a case all the same of always running around looking for someone to blame all the time. What we need to certainly find out is how we can make things better."

SQA director of development, Dr Dennis Gunning, stressed that the problem concerned only a small number of candidates and said the situation would be sorted out by the end of the month.

"Our problems stem from the new system of Highers which has been the most complicated one ever introduced in Scotland," he said.

Boy sitting exam
Some exam details have not been posted on
"Ideally we would have liked a little longer to deal with the situation but we did not have the time to do that.

"What has happened is that one of two bits of data, which should have appeared on completed certificates, still needs to be included."

Mr Galbraith said his officials had known for some weeks that the SQA was running into trouble with its new exam system.

The inquiry will be carried out by a team of independent consultants which had already been commissioned by the SQA to look into the delay.

SNP education spokeswoman, Nicola Sturgeon, said any delay for students was unacceptable.

She said: "This Labour administration is treating Scottish pupils as guinea pigs by implementing policy initiatives before the potential impact of these policies has been fully investigated."

Anyone wanting information from the Scottish Qualifications Authority can ring 0141 242 2160 or send an e-mail.

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See also:

09 Aug 00 | Scotland
Reassurance over results delay
16 May 00 | Scotland
D-day for Scottish pupils
15 May 00 | Scotland
Pupil sets site on exams
25 May 00 | UK Systems
Higher education
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