Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/06/07/ucas_track_outage/

Students outraged: Computer refuses to do any work for entire week

One claims to have decided what to do with her life, but UCAS won't let her

By Brid-Aine Parnell

Posted in Servers, 7th June 2013 12:28 GMT

Computer systems at UCAS - the UK's clearinghouse for university places - has been down since the start of this week, preventing students from confirming their admissions to uni courses online.

“We are currently experiencing some technical issues with our IT systems. Students who have already applied will find that they are not able to check the progress of their application or reply to offers,” a spokesperson for the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service told The Reg in an emailed statement.

Staff at the service couldn't or wouldn't say what was causing the outage, but said they do not expect the web-based application tracking system to be back up and running until next week sometime. Wannabe undergrads rely on UCAS to manage their university applications and receive offers for places on courses. Decisions have to be made within deadlines set by the service.

UCAS has informed universities and colleges of the problems and students whose deadline for accepting places passed on Thursday have been given an extension.

“The new deadline will be confirmed once IT systems are restored and we will make sure that there is enough time for students to make informed decisions before completing their replies. We are aiming to announce the new deadline next week,” the spokesperson said.

But students have been understandably upset about the outage happening at such an important time for them.

“With examination results being processed and places to be confirmed within the next two months, what confidence is there of the service continuing to work over this critical period?” one asked El Reg.

And others tweeted:

Philip Blaker, head of admissions services, said in a blog post that UCAS was hoping to get the Track service back up early next week, but admitted he couldn't give a specific date or time for the fix.

"It’s our top priority and we’re doing all we can to resolve the issue so you can log in to Track as soon as possible," he said. "We'll let you know when it's available again." ®

Updated to add

A spokesman for UCAS dropped us a note after publication to say: "This was a hardware issue and we are currently completing assurance checks to ensure we are able to return to a full live service early next week. We are, of course, investigating the cause of the problems."