June is a strange month for students. First comes the relief that exams are over, ending weeks of anxiety and intensive preparation. This doesn’t last long, before the anxiety returns. But this time it comes with a terrifying sense of helplessness, because it involves waiting for those all-important results. The outcome will often define a career, either opening a door, or slamming it shut.
In days gone by, that wait was ended by the postman. Today, students are more likely to get their result via text message or e-mail. This should, in theory, be more reliable than the post. However, a system error this week saw final-year students at Edinburgh University receive an e-mail saying their graduation had been cancelled, because they had effectively failed their exams. If it wasn’t so serious, it would be hilarious. Other than a death in the family, it would be difficult to deliver worse news to a student right now.
If the university – or any such body – wants to communicate sensitive news electronically, it requires a robust system which makes this kind of error impossible. This mistake should never have happened, and must never happen again.