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Education correspondent Kenneth Macdonald
"For a second weekend thousands of students don't know what their Higher results are"
 real 56k

The BBC's Emma Simpson
"The crisis is far from over for the Scottish executive"
 real 56k

Bill Morton, SQA
"I don't think people will lose out"
 real 28k

Friday, 18 August, 2000, 18:05 GMT 19:05 UK
SQA puts figure on exam mistakes
Bill Morton and sam galbraith
Bill Morton and Sam Galbraith
More than 5,000 candidates are now known to have received inaccurate or incomplete exam results in Scotland.

Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) chairman David Miller said the problems were caused by incomplete exam results data on the organisation's database.

The authority's interim chief executive Bill Morton has promised said that no grades will be lowered following a validation check of the computer data.

The SQA met its deadline of Thursday midnight for re-checking its data. Letters are now being sent to the 5,000 candidates whose results are incomplete.

But the information will not contain the grades of the missing results and the authority does not know when those grades will be sent out.


The easiest thing for me is to walk away. The difficult thing is to stay and resolve this. That's what I'm doing

Education Minister Sam Galbraith
The correct data has been passed onto university admissions service Ucas as a matter of urgency. It will use the information to help universities and colleges allocate course places.

Mr Morton said: "Ninety-five percent of Higher grades and certificates of Sixth Year Studies are okay. In a small minority of cases there were incomplete certificates."

He said the work being done by the SQA should ease the anxieties of children and parents.

"We will first and foremost write to all students today. That starts the process of putting in place the remedy. We will complete the work that needs to be done as soon as possible.

"Some cases will be more difficult than others, but we are now getting rid of the uncertainty.

'No-one loses'

"There is a guarantee in place, with the assistance of the Scottish Executive, that university places will be held.

"I don't think people will lose out, no grades will be lower and Ucas can proceed with confidence," added Mr Morton.

The chief executive's view was backed by Mr Miller who said just over 5,000 Highers and CSYS candidates' results were incomplete and they had all been individually identified.

History papers
Some marks are still missing
"We can confirm that no grades for any Higher or CSYS candidate will be lowered," he told a news conference.

"We have identified those affected candidates by name and will be working to confirm their final result.

"SQA wants to learn from this failure.

"Now that we have established the extent of the challenge, I am pleased that we can move forward. We owe it to our young people to ensure this never happens again."

But opposition parties in Scotland said the SQA's guarantees were not good enough.

Political row

Scottish National Party education spokeswoman Nicola Sturgeon said: "The SQA and Sam Galbraith have deliberately misled people, no-one seems to know what has been going on."

The Conservatives' education spokesman Brian Monteith said students were clearly being disadvantaged in terms of obtaining university places, and he joined his SNP colleagues in calling for Mr Galbraith to resign.

"A week on, the promises have not been kept. It is quite clear that Sam Galbraith has failed and when a minister fails as badly as he has there is only one option left - he must resign," said Mr Monteith.

Sam Glabraith
Sam Galbraith: More pressure to go
Mr Galbraith responded: "The easiest thing for me is to walk away. The difficult thing is to stay and resolve this. That's what I'm doing.

"It's certainly not a pleasant situation. My position in this is irrelevant. It's the children, it's the mums and dads - it's my responsibility to resolve that."

Those students who continue to be affected by the exams fiasco, which blew up last Thursday, can call an SQA helpline.

Some universities have already started confirming places for students with incomplete results.

Predicted results

Aberdeen University and Napier University in Edinburgh said on Thursday that students with missing grades "had waited long enough" to have their places confirmed.

They were joined by Paisley and Stirling universities on Friday who said they would take students on the basis of their predicted results.


Those with SQA results which are confirmed late will enter clearing a few days late

David Caldwell, Coshep
The distribution of A-level results in the rest of the UK signalled the start of the clearing process, which matches students with vacant university places.

Ucas said that the number of applicants awaiting decisions from higher education is 134,785 - significantly more than last year.

Its chief executive Tony Higgins said the delays in the Scottish system were largely to blame for that.

David Caldwell, the director of the Committee of Scottish Higher Education Principals (Coshep), said that universities and colleges would continue to do everything they could to make sure SQA candidates were not disadvantaged.

He said: "Those with SQA results which are confirmed late will enter clearing a few days late.

"However, Scottish universities and colleges will try to ensure that they have exactly the same opportunities as they would have had had they joined clearing at the usual time."

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18 Aug 00 | Scotland
SQA chairman statement in full
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