Published Sunday, 19 August 2012
It comes after UU confirmed it will honour offers made to all students as a result of an email error within its School of Engineering, following a review of the situation.
A total of 370 applicants received congratulatory offers from the university after they applied for places, while only 194 places were available.
Dr Stephen Farry said that, while it remains to be seen how many students will take up these offers, a financial penalty can be expected in the case of mismanagement.
"It is now likely that the university will breach their MaSN (Maximum allocation of Student Numbers) cap," said the DEL minister on Sunday.
"This is a means of financial control and universities are expected to remain within these limits so we cannot take this development lightly.
"Universities routinely make more conditional offers than they have places in the knowledge that not every offer will be taken up, and through managing this process across all courses, over and under allocations will be evened out.
"In the event that this is mismanaged a university would expect a financial penalty."
Professor Richard Millar, Dean of the Faculty of Computing and Engineering, said the university's contingency fund will be able to cover the extra places.
However he said the possibility that students applying this year for next year could be affected is part of the discussion it is having with DEL.
Professor Millar added that the university is "delighted" to be able to stand over the offers and stressed that they will not take away from other subject areas.
"We are now in the happy situation of being able to confirm for all students where we have a full set of their exam results we're going to honour the offer that was made to them," he said.
"There is a remaining group of 20 students where we're still waiting on some results for those students - that might be, maybe, on a GCSE they'll get later this week.
"But these additional student numbers are exactly that, they are additional.
"They are not going to take students away from other subject areas and they are not going to take students away from other campuses of the university."
The university has apologised over the problem which it believes to have arisen from a computer error rather than human error. It said it means some students whose grades are lower than those normally accepted onto the course will be allowed in.
Meanwhile the Higher Education Minister said his department will be looking at how to manage the situation over the coming days.
"The precise scale of the over-commitment from UU will not be known until the end of this week at the earliest," Dr Farry continued.
"I understand the specific circumstances behind any distortion that may now appear and am sympathetic to the situation that the University now finds itself in.
"I expect this issue to be addressed within current financial arrangements and will be requiring a quality assurance statement from the university that systems have been rectified."
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