My own experience has been similar to the examples quoted. The failures experienced by my school have been entirely the fault of UCAS's Electronic Admission System, EAS2000.
The program originally arrived with a fault which caused it to send only one application out of any chosen group. This was corrected only by an upgrade which arrived one day before the October 15 deadline for Oxford and Cambridge. By then it had caused a great deal of unnecessary stress for both the students and office staff involved.
We heard today (November 16) that these forms have not yet arrived at Cambridge and the colleges have requested a duplicate printed set.
The EAS program is slow to load and it is not obvious to students how to correct errors after the file-suffix has been changed by the program.
In addition, EAS2000 has coincidentally been involved with the only two floppy disc failures we have experienced in the past two years.
Having a PhD in physics, and assisted by a chartered engineer network manager, I find the arrogant and unapologetic comments from UCAS to be unacceptable. It is not up to the monopoly supplier to dictate to schools what equipment to buy.
Programmers should be able to deal with the everyday problems of changing machine capabilities. We have noticed no difference in the slow performace of EAS2000 running on aging 486PCs or on a good 350MHz modern version.
Dr Colin Byfleet