WASHINGTON (AFP) - A major US university is apologising to 800 applicants after it erroneously sent them e-mails offering them places in its elite computer studies programme.
Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania blamed "serious mistakes in our process for generating acceptance letters" for the gaffe.
"You are one of the select few, less than 9 per cent of the more than 1,200 applicants, that we are inviting," read the e-mail, sent on Monday.
"We're convinced this is the right place for you. Welcome to Carnegie Mellon!"
Several hours later, however, the university followed up with "correction of prior e-mail/revocation of offer of admission" notices.
Those e-mails told recipients that they had not, in fact, won admission to Carnegie Mellon's masters of science in computer studies programme after all.
"We are sorry for our miscommunication earlier today and we apologise for any confusion or inconvenience this has caused," it said.
In a press release, the university said it was "currently reviewing our notification process to help ensure this does not happen in the future."
Carnegie Mellon ranks alongside the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Stanford University in California as one of America's top schools for computer engineering.
More than 1,800 students are enrolled in its computer sciences faculty, including 757 students in 14 different graduate programmes, a spokesman told AFP.
But it is not alone when it comes to sending out erroneous letters of acceptance.
Others have included MIT; Johns Hopkins in Maryland; Fordham University in New York; and the University of California in San Diego which in 2009 sent acceptance letters to all 46,000 of its applicants that year.
On TheGradCafe.com, an online forum for American graduate students, reaction to the Carnegie Mellon snafu ranged from outrage to deadpan sarcasm.
"Accepted this morning and rejected a few hours later. Completely unacceptable," wrote one disappointed applicant.
"Thanks CMU," wrote another rejected applicant.
"This was a really invaluable, incomparable experience. How can I ever thank you for your kindness?"