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Journalism students to take exams again after papers are lost in post

Journalism students whose shorthand exam papers went missing in the post are to re-sit the tests next month.

Ten students took the shorthand exams at Cornwall College on February 2, but the papers never arrived at the NCTJ’s Saffron Walden offices for marking.

It is thought they were destroyed by Royal Mail after being addressed incorrectly.

Now students have been told they will need to retake the exam on April 20. Cornwall College has offered to cover any additional expenses and arrange for the exams to be sat elsewhere if necessary.

One of the affected students was Newquay Voice reporter Katri Iivonen, who sat the 80wpm and 100wpm exam.

She told HoldtheFrontPage: “At first I was quite upset and I am still disappointed as I had been training hard to try and pass.

“I’ve still been using my shorthand in my job so I am probably one of the luckiest.

“Perhaps next time they could photocopy the papers so there is a back up.”

The papers had been sent by recorded delivery from Cornwall College to the NCTJ’s old offices in Harlow rather than its base in Newport, Essex, to which it moved last summer.

Royal Mail said there had been no forwarding address or return address, and in such cases mail would usually be sent to its return letter centre in Belfast where a team works to try to get letters returned to sender.

But its policy for franked mail – which the papers were – was to destroy them.

Following the incident the college has changed its procedures and will now use special delivery, which is tracked by Royal Mail, rather than recorded delivery, which is not.

A return address will also be used and copies of the papers will be produced.

Mike Lister, head of operations at Cornwall College Camborne, said: “We deeply regret this unfortunate incident and are doing everything we can to limit the distress and inconvenience to our students.

“The National Council for the Training of Journalists moved to new premises about eight months ago but the examination papers contained its old address to which the papers were returned. The NCTJ, unfortunately, is no longer using a mail forwarding service.

“The examination papers were sent recorded delivery and franked using the Cornwall College frank. This frank also has a unique registration number which is traceable back to the College.

“We have been in contact with the Royal Mail, but due to their policy of dealing with undelivered mail it is unlikely that these papers will be found.

“We have made arrangements for these students to re-take their examination on the 20th April and have flagged up the incident to the NCTJ who have waived the examination fee.

“We are anxious that these students should not be disadvantaged further and we have offered appropriate additional tutor support, to ensure that these students are still up to the required NCTJ standard.”

NCTJ chief executive Joanne Butcher said: “It is the responsibility of our exam centres to ensure that all exam scripts are sent by a secure method of delivery as stated in our ‘Security of NCTJ exam papers’ policy.

“We understand that a batch of exam scripts from one of our exam centres has been lost in the post due to the scripts being sent by the college to our old address, the Latton Bush Centre, Harlow.

“Royal Mail is unable to forward mail to our present address in Newport, Saffron Walden as the Latton Bush Centre is a multi-occupied business address.

“All centres were notified of our change of address well in advance of our relocation.

“Following this incident, Joanne Aitchison, senior examinations controller at the NCTJ, has reminded all exam centres of their responsibilities of ensuring secure delivery to the correct address.”