UCL’s latest spamming scandal goes worldwide

UCL’s latest spamming scandal goes worldwide

Roberto Valdo Cortese reports on the second email mess up this term

A glitch in Admissions Office mailings system sent thousands of emails to current and prospective students, and former applicants.

Those emailed were informed of “changes in their application statuses”, in the second major email spamming scandal at UCL this term.

“One year too late UCL” commented a current SOAS student after receiving an email about their application, when they were in fact rejected for the Law degree in 2013.

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She is one of the thousands of former applicants who received applications, notifications, a personal student number, and a link to create their own Portico user.

“It was a glitch in the system” comments a member of the Students Admissions office. Refusing to disclose the exact figure, he claimed that the number of sent emails is “in the order of thousands”.

A student at Sciences Po Menton, France, followed-up on the link provided, and managed to receive a token to set up his own UCL account.

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Those currently studying at UCL were also emailed, prompting mass confusion.

UCL’s press office has confirmed to Pi Media that these emails reached also prospective applicants and sixth formers.

However, they strictly denied the rumor, spread by other media, that any offers were made as a result of the glitch.

Although most emails regarded admissions, others included a broad range of topics. For instance, a UCL student who applied for the Study Abroad program was eagerly reminded of the closeness of the program’s deadline.


At UCL, the internal server portico was unavailable for most of the morning due to the high number of attempted logins.

“We get to deal with the consequences, without knowing exactly what is happening. Admissions is a different division from us”, commented an Internet Service Desk worker.

It has been yet another embarrassing day for UCL’s IT department, as it has only just recovered from the Bellogate scandal where a thread of 3,000 spam emails was created as a result of the disclosure of the “all-students@ucl” email address.

The issue became a case on national media – from the Guardian to the BBC. One would have expected the reliability of UCL’s mailing system to have improved since. It would appear that it has not.

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