Hundreds of students at a north-east college were left in limbo for hours after they were sent incomplete provisional exam results, it has emerged.
Youngsters at North East Scotland College (Nescol) were sent their provisional National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher grades at lunchtime last Friday.
But the initial message gave only the band – for example Upper 3 – rather than using the letter system of A, B, C and so on.
Confusion reigned when students began interpreting the bands based on last year’s system. But changes for 2020/2021 meant that was not correct.
By about 4pm, college officials had sent out a follow-up email which said there been “an issue” with the first set of grades sent out.
It said: “Please accept our apologies and disregard the previous email.
“We are currently working on the issue and we will send you a further email to clarify your grade.”
They sent out the full results at about 5pm – leaving some disappointed. This was because they had calculated their grades from the banding and now had lower grades than they had calculated.
Provisional results are a judgement made by lecturers to determine a grade which is supported by coursework and other assessments.
Final results will be issued to students in August. The SQA and college carry out quality assurance checks to make sure the grades are fair and consistent across the country.
Student brands changes in results ‘cruel’
One student, who did want to be named, said her classmates were nervous and excited to be receiving their results.
Although she did not want to go into details, she confirmed her results were different to her initial calculations.
The student completed her courses online and hopes to go onto university
She said: “I got woken up by my classmate who was messaging and was just so happy about her results.
“Then I was hoping to get into university with my results but the email from Nescol said the grades were for the upper band.
“We were asking the college, ‘what does this mean?’ They told us to disregard that and they were in the middle of sorting it out.
“They another batch of emails came through with different results. One of my classmates needed four Bs and got downgraded to two Cs and two Ds.
“We all went from elation and excitement about our future plans and then we were in tears a few hours later. It feels cruel.”
College chiefs stress no results were altered
College bosses said that “incomplete data” was used in the emails sent out to more than 700 students.
Officials said “no results were altered” because of the error and they apologised for the mistake.
A spokesman for Nescol said: “In line with SQA requirements, students studying for National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher qualifications with NESCol have been informed of their provisional results.
“A system error led to incomplete data being used to populate emails distributed to students on Friday. This meant initial emails did not contain provisional grades.
“The error was quickly identified and rectified. Students affected were notified on Friday and received full provisional results in a subsequent email. It is important to underline that no grades were altered as a result of this system issue.
“We sincerely apologise for any confusion or distress caused by the error in communicating provisional results. We are aware of the upset this may have caused some students at such a crucial stage in the college year and are very appreciative of the understanding they have shown. The commitment all Nescol students have demonstrated throughout this very challenging session has been exemplary.
“Students can be assured that the provisional results they have received are based on demonstrated attainment and on the evidence of each individual’s knowledge and skills against the national standard.
“The college has implemented robust processes to ensure the provisional grades allocated are aligned with SQA requirements. This includes an initial review to determine the assessment approach for each course and a review by Internal Quality Assurance panels of the grades awarded.”