HUDDERSFIELD University has become one of the first to admit it chooses students by lottery for one of its courses.

Random selection has been introduced in physiotherapy where up to 600 applicants chase 50 places a year.

University bosses said today it was the fairest way to pick candidates judged to be equally qualified.

Spokesman Phil Williams said: "We haven't been able to come up with a better method."

Admission tutors revealed they picked out students predicted to get the required three C grades at A-level.

Then they divided applications into three piles divided into mature students, men and women.

Applicants were then chosen at random from the piles to get the right balance between the groups.

Mr Williams said: "Physiotherapy is one of our most popular courses.

"But the number of places we are able to offer is capped by the NHS."

Interviews were not necessarily any fairer than random selection, said Mr Williams.

The admission by Huddersfield University came during a Government- sponsored inquiry into higher education.

An interim recommendation is that universities should try using US-style aptitude tests as well as A-levels to select students.

This would identify bright pupils who might not get good A-level results because of their poor schooling.