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We spoke to the students who received fake university acceptance emails from UCAS

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An email from UCAS confirming places at Newcastle or Northumbria University has fooled thousands of apprehensive students before receiving another email saying it was a “mistake”.

The emails sent almost five hours apart reached over 4,100 students who had applied to the universities as either their firm or insurance choice, according to a spokesperson for UCAS.

The first email, sent to promote Fusion Student Housing, was sent at approximately 11:23 am and read: 'You have been accepted at university and you will be studying in Newcastle next year – Congratulations!'

Later in the afternoon, at around 16:09 am, UCAS sent an apology: 'Earlier today, we sent you this email by mistake. We’re really sorry.' The college admissions service also requested that students 'delete' the previous email. 

UCAS has publicly apologised for the error, adding: “Our mistake was quickly spotted, and a follow-up email to apologise was sent that afternoon.”

Newcastle University’s director of student recruitment, Lucy Backhurst, also published a statement, adding “this was not our error.”  

The same university responded to a tweet by an upset student who had been affected, saying: “If you'd like to DM us your name and student ID we can look into your application status for you?”

This mix-up happened a month before A-Level Results Day on the 16th of August, where students will discover which universities they will go to. Unless a student obtains an unconditional offer, UCAS cannot confirm acceptance into a university until A-Level results are released.

Bethan Harris, who selected Newcastle as her firm, is among those who received the accidental email which congratulated her incorrect achievement.

Having already been through the UCAS procedure once before, Bethan feels particularly frustrated and believes the organisation overseeing her impending future “should be more careful”.

The mistake has also put a strain on those who listed Newcastle as their insurance choice, including Tom Winetroube and Jade Atkinson.

On receiving the second email, Tom Winetroube instantly assumed that he had not met the criteria for his firm choice. Speaking to The National Student, Tom said that he felt “disheartened” and says the incident has put some doubt into his mind.

“Regardless of the apology email, which I was appreciative of, I still feel a lot more nervous and less confident for results day now,” he explained. 

“I imagine it was purely an administrative error of some sort, but with lots of students in such a fragile and nervous state of mind, I think that it’s more harmful than it may appear to those who aren’t in the same situation. It certainly has led to some over analysing on my part,” said Tom.

Student Jade Atkinson told us she felt 'confused' despite already knowing her grades. The email scared her into thinking she had set Newcastle as her firm choice by accident. “It did make me panic until I checked my UCAS track to see it was my insurance choice."

“I understand it was a mistake, but I think maybe to the people whose first choice it is could possibly do with more of an apology,” she said. 

Katy Evans, who applied to Newcastle but did not select it as her firm or insurance, still received the email which suggested she was going to a university she had not chosen.

Students who hadn’t even applied to Newcastle also received the emails; Lauryn Currey is one of them.

Lauryn, who knows of only one other person to receive the flawed email, says what happened “should be taken more seriously” because of how it may have distressed other students. “It’s just annoying with results day still being a while away,” she added.

Explanations and apologies made, anxious students are back to impatiently awaiting for results day to discover which universities they will be attending.

Featured image courtesy of Sarah Cossom

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