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Student-poaching prompts confidentiality review call

Calls for a review of an admissions centre privacy code have been prompted by news that the University of Sydney used it to try and poach students from other universities, according to Australian media reports.

John Redmond, the dean of the architecture faculty, allegedly used information from the Universities Admissions Centre database to offer 101 students a guaranteed position in his faculty if they named Sydney as their first choice.

Andrew Stanton, managing director of UAC, has reportedly said he would raise the incident at the next meeting of the New South Wales Vice-Chancellors’ Committee, which oversees the centre.

Stanton says the committee was unlikely to pursue the matter, as the university had made an effort to address the problem, which concerned only one faculty.

However, the incident has provoked calls for an overhaul of the ethics code, which all NSW and ACT universities have signed.

The UAC code reassures students that universities cannot contact and pressure them to modify the order of their preferences or change the preferences shown on their applications.

“The recent media coverage highlights the need for a review of protocols and I will raise this at the next meeting of the NSW Vice-Chancellors’ Committee,” said Fred Hilmer, vice-chancellor of the University of NSW, in a statement on 7 January.