07/08/2012 06:00 BST | Updated 07/08/2012 06:30 BST

Record Number Of Scottish Students Pass Higher Exams

A record number of Scottish students have passed their exams, but the good news has been marred by university blunders and a desperate scramble for clearing places.

Around 160,000 students in Scotland will receive their exam results on Tuesday. The pass rate for the Scottish Higher exam has increased from 75.2% in 2011 to 76.9%, while the Standard Grade exam pass rate increased by 0.4%.

But instead of celebrating their results, Scottish students will have to contend with the revelations that have blighted the past week.

Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen emailed 370 students congratulating them on securing a place, a day before the exam results were released, it was revealed. The error comes a week after St Andrews University posted results on their website, and both glitches have left the Scottish Qualifications Authority demanding answers.

An SQA spokesperson said: "Universities receive results under strict embargo so as to ease the university entrance process. This latest breach, at a stressful time for candidates, is very disappointing and regrettable."

On Monday, Scottish students were delivered with more bad news, when universities in Scotland predicted last-minute clearing places would be few and far between.

Admissions officers said demand far outstripped supply, leaving little choice for applicants who miss out on their first choice by not achieving the required grades.

Responding to the exam results on Tuesday, Dr Janet Brown, chief executive of the SQA, said: "The increased number of qualifications achieved by candidates not only reflects their hard work and commitment, but also the value they place on qualifications, particularly in this difficult economic climate.

"I want to congratulate everyone and whether they will be returning to school or college, moving on to higher education or entering the workplace, I wish them continued success."

Scotland's education secretary Mike Russell echoed Brown's congratulations, saying the success is testament to the hard work pupils have put in.

"When people ask about the potential for dumbing down, I always ask them if they've looked at the exam papers and tried to sit them because, actually, these are tough exams.

"Of course, as well as being a time of celebration for many, this is also a time of uncertainty for others."

Russell added a helpline is available for those who needed to discuss their options: 0808 100 8000.


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