Selection of an inappropriate degree intention is a principal cause of students withdrawing from university study. Law schools face particular problems because most applicants will not have studied law previously and so cannot form informed opinions about whether it is a suitable degree intention for them. The University of Aberdeen School of Law piloted a scheme whereby nine final-year school pupils attended a compulsory module of the LLB programme, allowing them to study on-campus as if they were first-year law students. This experience was successful in allowing them to make informed decisions regarding their degree intention (thus aiding student retention), with two-thirds going on to matriculate as law students and a third deciding law was not appropriate for them after all. The pupils also noted various other benefits, including increased confidence in their ability to transition into university effectively. The scheme also promoted the university to the pupils, all but two of whom have come to Aberdeen for their degree. This pilot project thus has implications for retention, transition, and early engagement of students. It may also serve as a mechanism for blending school and university study with the view to saving repeat learning at e.g. Scottish Curriculum and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) level seven.
I would like to thank my Head of School (Anne-Michelle Slater), the staff at the three secondary schools and the pupils who participated in the scheme for their permission to publish this study. I would also like to thank Dr Darren Comber, Dr Andrew Simpson and Anne-Michelle Slater for reading an earlier draft of this article.