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Course information and course choice

Student preparedness and compatibility of choice are seen as major contributing elements influencing decisions to leave university during the first year. Inaccurate perceptions of university life that lead to poor student preparedness are mainly derived from out-of-date or inaccurate information from family, friends, teachers and university literature.

The student/institution negotiation model suggests a poor choice has long-term implications and stems from unfulfilled or mismatched student expectations of the institution and the disappointment of staff in the students they have admitted.  The publication Personalisation of the First Year includes some examples of ways in which these issues have been addressed in different institutions.

One response to the issue of poor initial choice of course is to be found at Napier University, which allows students to personalise the content of their degree programme through module choice. Five types of modules are available:

  • compulsory modules for all students for their particular programme
  • university-wide co-curricular modules available to all students regardless of their programme. These include using PDP, work-based learning or extracurricular activities as the basis for credit (for example, volunteering in the community), and independent study modules (where students select their own topic, set their own learning outcomes, adopt their own approach and choose the format of their final submission)
  • approved option modules, determined by programme designers and available to all students on the programme
  • other optional modules; students can negotiate to take any university module by agreement with their personal tutor
  • study abroad modules for students who wish to spend a period of study at another HEI.

Source: Personalisation in the First Year

Outcomes of discussions with students and their expectations and experience include details about why some Scottish students chose their particular type of university (either 'Ancient', 'Chartered', 'Post -92' or 'Specialist') and their advice for those deciding whether to go to university or not.