Officials at the University of Edinburgh were left red-faced after a system glitch sent emails to students sitting final-year exams informing them that they would fail to graduate as planned.

Students who were registered to graduate this summer received a mysterious email headed “Graduation ceremony cancelled – no award”, sent shortly after midnight on Thursday morning.

“We are now advised that you are not expected to complete your studies until later in the year, and therefore we presume that you may be eligible to attend the next available graduation ceremony,” the email read.

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After queries from worried students the university quickly apologised for the confusion, assuring students eligible to graduate that their ceremonies would go ahead as planned.

“This email was issued in error so please ignore it. No graduations have been cancelled,” Barry Neilson, Edinburgh’s service excellence programme lead said in a message to the students affected.

“We are still looking into the root cause of this error. Meanwhile we would like to apologise unreservedly for any stress that this error has caused you at what we know is a stressful time.”

The university said the emails were thought to have been caused by a software system error.

“There was no breach of our systems and no student data was compromised. The university has written to all students affected to reassure them that their graduations have not been cancelled and asking them to ignore the emails,” the university said.

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