Students have been left outraged by new research which suggests elite universities across the country view law A-level as a soft option.
The study by the Policy Exchange think tank suggests that top universities are creating unofficial blacklists of subjects that they think lack academic rigour – with law being among them.
Despite the Government denying a two-tier system, data shows that leading institutions accept more students who have done traditional A-levels subjects such as maths and science rather than profession-based subjects like law.
But Cambridge University law student Paul Powlesland said he is sick of the constant sniping law A-level gets.
I studied it and, as a result, when I arrived at Cambridge to study law, I had a big head start on everyone else in terms of both knowledge and skills. A-level law was far more useful to me than the other ‘traditional’ subjects I took, he said.
Exeter University law student Taz Bhachoo also studied law at A-level and claimed it helped him hit the ground running when he started his degree.
Its outrageous to say A-level law is softer than others because its not – it is actually really very demading. Studying it at A-level confirmed for me what I wanted to study at university, he argued.
Students are not the only ones disappointed by the report. Bev Sylvester-Evans, who is the senior subject officer for psychology and law at the Assessment and Qualifications Alliance (AQA), suggested it was unfair to compare A-levels when they had all been approved by regulators.
She said: “A-level law is not a ‘soft’ option and I urge anyone who is labeling it soft to come and have a look at an exam paper to see for themselves how hard it is.
But not all universities are cloaking their dislike for professional-based A-levels such as law. Although University of Manchester does not rule out law A-level, its open about its preference for core subjects that have at least 70 per cent theory.
Manchester University’s director of external relations at the college of law, Dinah Crystal, said: Weve found, from past experience, that students who take law at A-level and then go on to study law at degree level don’t do as well in their first year because they think they know it all already. Furthermore, experience indicates that some subjects are more suited than others for preparing students to undertake the study of law.
The study showed that ‘soft’ professional subjects, such as law, accounting and business studies, make up 6.4 per cent of all A-levels taken – but at the 27 universities surveyed, the subjects make up only 4.3 per cent of A-levels accepted.