Today, I bring you something that happened with me recently and that I think it is worth sharing.

As some of my readers may know, I applied for a Master’s degree in Advanced Software Engineering at the University of Leicester. As of a couple of months ago, I received a letter saying I had been accepted. The said letter was a conditional offer from the University, where the condition was obtaining my current degree (BSc in Computer Science) with an average grade no lower than 65%.

“Perfect.” – I thought. 65% in a 20 point scale represents 13 points, which would be totally doable with my 14.2 points average.

Still, just to be sure, I decided to e-mail the Post-Graduate Admissions Office to assert how much would 65% be in my scale. For much of my surprise, I am told that 65% actually corresponds to 16 marks in my grading system. I was shocked. This meant that my goal simply could not be done…

I e-mailed the PGA office back, asking whether that hadn’t in fact been a mistake. Some days passed. Since the last time I e-mailed the PGA office it took them some two weeks to come back at me, I thought I’d send in the artillery and decided to call them. The lady who picked up my call didn’t know how to help me but checked with a colleague who told her that I would have to contact the UK NARIC if I wasn’t happy with that grade comparison.

So I did. I e-mailed UK NARIC, only to realize that this is actually a paid service in the UK that provides people with comparison statements between systems in foreign countries and the UK system. Without being very helpful, their reply mentioned a £40 fee for requesting such a statement, without a warranty at all that I would get in at Leicester in the end.

In the same day (yesterday), I also decided to e-mail my course coordinator (Prof. Patrício Domingues) at ESTG; I thought that perhaps he could help me and he did in fact help me. He provided me with a link to the Portuguese Republic Diary (Diário da República) where it clearly states that the grade range of 60% through 69% in the UK corresponds to 16 marks in Portugal. Bummer. It was all going down the drain… but I wasn’t just about to give up. There was one last option: having my entrance requirement lowered.

The last thing I did yesterday was e-mailing Ms. Stacey March, from the Department of Computer Science at Leicester. She’d been the one to announce that I had been accepted so I thought that she could help me in this situation. In my second e-mail, since the artillery had failed before – I had to send a nuke. And so I did. I factored it all in. I mentioned the fact that on the entry requirements it says that the applicant should have a good Second Class degree, and that Second Class is actually divided in the First and Second division (60 to 69% and 50 to 59% respectively). So technically I do have a Second Class degree with my 14 marks. Plus, I threw all that I have left at them: my work experience at Omerta, the one-month job I got in Leiria, the fact that I am currently engaged in the Google Summer of Code program, and that I still am a Microsoft Student Partner. That, on top of the fact of having scored much higher than what’s required in the TOEFL exam.

An hour ago, I had a surprise. The PGA office was e-mailing me, notifying that they reviewed my transcripts and together with UK NARIC they agreed that I would be accepted with a minimum of 13 points in a 20-point based scale.


Essentially I feel like I was accepted twice…

Till the next time 😉