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Vocal and willing

The internet and changes in schools may have contributed to problems among first-years - but these are usually picked up early because the same students are so confident about expressing themselves.

That is the view of Linda Morris, admissions officer and adviser of studies at Dundee University's school of life sciences.

"First-years are much more willing to speak out than they used to be," she said. "They're willing to volunteer an answer, even if it might be a mistake."

On the downside, the decreasing popularity of chemistry and difficulties in applying mathematics are forcing the university to play catch-up.

"Fewer people are coming in with a good chemistry background," said Dr Morris. "But so long as they're willing to learn, we can deal with that.

Many seem to have little experience of logarithms. They catch up reasonably quickly, though. There must be a change in school, an omission somewhere along the line."

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