Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) results are not due until next Tuesday, 7 August, but students logging onto the University of St Andrews website last Wednesday were able to see their grades.
Schools, universities and colleges get results of Highers and Advanced Highers a week before pupils. The error occurred when the university was uploading the results onto its website.
It is the second time St Andrews has done this, and SQA bosses said they were seeking “urgent assurances that such an error can’t happen again”.
The mistake was brought to the attention of the university by a concerned parent. The university closed its iSaint portal, where the results were accessed, on Thursday morning. During the 12 hours the portal was open, 65 pupils saw their results.
Yesterday, a St Andrews spokesman said: “The university regrets this breach of embargo which was caused by a combination of a system error and the efficiency of staff who processed data early. The university has notified the SQA of the mistake.
“As a result of the temporary glitch in our computer systems, it became possible for 65 students already admitted to the University of St Andrews to access the results of their SQA national qualifications on the university website for a 12-hour period between Wednesday evening and Thursday morning.
“The matter was brought to our attention by a parent and action was quickly taken to close the loophole.
“It is very important to stress that this error did not affect people seeking admission to St Andrews or awaiting a decision upon a conditional offer. The ability to see exam results on our website applied only to students who had already accepted an unconditional offer from St Andrews and students could see only their own results and not those of others.”
St Andrews and Aberdeen universities made an identical error in 2010 when 38 students from St Andrews saw their results early. The SQA said it appeared no other universities were involved this time.
An SQA spokesman said: “We are disappointed an error at St Andrews University has resulted in some of their applicants being able to view confidential information. We are especially disappointed in view of the fact that the university has admitted that a similar error was made by them two years ago.
“The error occurred while university staff were uploading exam results which they had received from UCAS [Universities and Colleges Admissions Service]. We are expressing our disappointment to the university in the strongest terms and seeking urgent assurances that such an error can’t happen again.”