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Struggle with the basics

There is a difference between a confident expression of opinion and a hypothesis underpinned by rigorous research. Julie Forrest, leader of the undergraduate management programme at the Robert Gordon University's Aberdeen business school, finds that first-year students often struggle to differentiate between the two.

"On the positive side, what we tend to find is that students these days are hugely enthusiastic and motivated when they start university," she said.

"They also seem to be more confident in presenting and public speaking skills, and there's also more confidence in discussing with one another, compared to seven or eight years ago. Interviewing techniques are impressive.

"But referencing skills is an area where they lack confidence. At school you are encouraged to give your own opinions, but not expected to underpin that with the research of authors."

Miss Forrest added that study-skills sessions were held to help with report writing and revision. "The students lack the grammar and punctuation skills they would have had in previous years, and they struggle with spelling.

Basic numeracy skills could also be improved."

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