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Student forced to take second-best degree option

LAURA BYRNES lost her chance to read English at university after she dropped two top grades under the Oxford and Cambridge exam board's A-level marking regime.

Laura, now 19, was a popular and hard-working head girl at St George's and her teachers expected her to have little difficulty achieving the two As and a B she needed to read English at Nottingham University.

But her hopes were dashed when she received her grades: three Bs in English, art and economics.

The school advised her to take a year off and reapply after an appeal against the English and art results.

But when the board refused to upgrade her, Laura found that universities she had considered the first time round would no longer accept her - to read English, a B in the subject was not good enough.

Laura, now in her first year at Trinity College, Dublin, said: "It was a nightmare. I was forced to take a year off and when I came back Trinity College was the only university to make me an offer. But they wouldn't let me read English unless I had an A."

Laura, now reading history of art and classics, is angry that any re-mark has come too late for her. She said: "I would love to be allowed to transfer to the English course but I have missed far too much. I feel very angry about what happened to myself and my classmates - we were brilliantly taught and worked very hard and we were treated very unfairly.

"We may just be numbers to the exam board but we are people whose lives have been changed forever because of this. I am enjoying my course, but it was a second-best option for me."

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