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Law students more likely to quit uni than their maths, languages and history-studying peers

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Lack of value for money among reasons cited by unhappy undergrads

Law students are more likely to drop out of their undergraduate degrees than their maths, languages and history-studying counterparts, according to new stats.

Data collected by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) reveals that 5.8% of law students fail to finish their course — a higher drop out rate than for mathematical sciences (5%), languages (4.5%), history and philosophy (4.2%).

The subject boasting the greatest number of quitters is computer sciences (9.8%), according to the figures, followed by business (7.4%), creative arts and design (7.2%) and engineering and technology (7.2%). By contrast, medics, dentists and vets appear to be the most committed, with a drop out rate of only 1.5%. You can see a full breakdown of the results below:

Dropout % by subject

Rank Subject Dropout rate (%)
1. Computer sciences 9.8%
2. Business 7.4%
=3. Creative arts and design 7.2%
=3. Engineering and technology 7.2%
=3. Mass comms 7.2%
=6. Architecture & planning 6.7%
=6. Biological sciences 6.7%
8. Education 6.2%
9. Agriculture 5.9%
=10. Law 5.8%
=10. Subjects allied to medicine 5.8%
12. Social studies 5.7%
13. Combined subjects 5.2%
14. Mathematical sciences 5.0%
15. Languages 4.5%
16. History and philosophy 4.2%
17. Physical sciences 3.9%
18. Medics, dentists and vets 1.5%

A survey by training course provider, The Knowledge Academy, found that most students consider dropping out in their second year. Reasons to throw in the grad cap and gown include a lack of value for money, followed by not enjoying the subject and not learning enough practical skills.

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Uni fee frustrations have soared following the government’s decision to almost triple tuition costs in 2012. Aspiring lawyers can now cough up as much as £9,250 per year for their LLBs, whereas some international students can expect to pay upwards of £20,000.

The dropout rates, first published by The Tab, follow a recent survey which revealed the universities with the country’s happiest law students. According to the findings, produced by the National Student Survey, the University of Lincoln came on top, with 95% of undergrads reporting they were happy with their legal studies. Behind Lincoln, Glasgow and Aberystwyth were named second and third, scoring 94% and 93%. Elite Russell Group players for the most part, however, struggled to land the top spots.

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39 Comments

Anonymous

Other than not liking the subject, the two biggest reasons to drop out of any course is that you’re not bright enough or you can’t be arsed.

Anonymous

Is that personal experience talking?

Anonymous

All of the above. Now at Clifford Chance.

Anonymous

My commiserations.

Anonymous

Currently at CC’s gents bogs, having a tommy tank, ripping on my Juul. Life is good

Anonymous

Too many universities/providers and too many students. I’m surprised the drop-out rate for law isn’t higher.

Law is not an engaging or intellectually satisfying degree to study, particularly now that so many legal academics pursue special interests that are essentially sociology dressed up as law.

I’d advise a young person who wants to be a lawyer to take a degree in a proper discipline like history, English or a foreign language and do the GDL. That way you get an interesting degree subject, broaden your mind and knowledge and later you can still work 14 hour days on boring dross just for the bucks.

Albert Einstein

Your advice sounds jolly good but has one catch which is that anyone who follows it will end up being a mediocre lawyer.

Anonymous

You don’t become a good lawyer because of what you do in your undergraduate degree.

Anonymous

Lol, get a load of this guy thinking that his degree will be even remotely relevant once qualified.

Anonymous

There are an increasing number of practising barristers whose undergraduate degrees are not LL.Bs. I’ve met an Oxford Music grad practising clinical negligence. That sounds like a joke, but it isn’t.

Anonymous

But Oxbridge grads are the best.

Anonymous

Working in litigation, I regularly instruct counsel for specialist legal advice. Whether they did a law degree makes not a blind bit of difference to the quality, even at the sharp end of legal knowledge.

The idea you’d be a better transactional corporate/finance/projects/commercial (which is the vast majority of City bods) lawyer because of what you did at uni is farcical.

Daniel Kelly

If the GDL produces mediocre lawyers then why do so many top firms and chambers take on GDL graduates? Perhaps they think that passing all the mandatory areas in a single year is at least as demonstrative of ability as doing it over three years interspersed with other stuff?

Anonymous

Law degrees are as interesting as dry cement. Most law academics have the personality of cigarette ash.

Anonymous

Drop outs should to pay for the full costs of their courses, not just there loans.

Anonymous

Them there loans. How’s the education going?

Anonymous

They still won’t realise its ‘their’ unless you tell them.

Anonymous

Indeed. Or “it’s”.

Anonymous

I agree with 9.09 and I have several degrees. I’m tired of spineless snowflakes wasted the income tax I pay.

Anonymous

I suppose it must be a bit disheartening when you realise your chances of career in a good, well paying law firm are severely reduced if you’re not from a RG uni or Oxbridge. Add to that the fact that people who did something else than law might take the job you want, I can see why people would decide to drop out and try something else.

Anonymous

Didn’t Kirkland NQ technically quit after his first lecture at Harvard?

Kirkland NQ

That’s correct, but was awarded a degree anyway because due to my demi-god levels of legal prowess it was obvious it was a waste of my time attending, and that I should be released like a caged lion to hunt down the PE deal gazelles.

Anonymous

The problem is Law used to be a prestigious degree that only people who actually wanted to pursue law did, nowadays its 50% students who want a career in law or something in a similar industry (like politics) and other 50% who don’t know what else to do and don’t realise what they’re getting themselves into. No wonder there’s a high dropout rate.

Anon

I think the dropout figures for law are partly because university isn’t taken as seriously as it used to be. As a law student myself, I see fellow students not turn up to lectures or seminars all year, turn up to seminars not having anything prepared, turn up to lectures to sleep or talk. Or you get the large majority of students who sit in lectures frantically typing on their macs copying out what the lecturer is reading off the slideshow. Law students used to be seen as hard working, smart individuals but they’re some of the laziest and unmotivated students I have ever seen

Kim Il-Sung

Agreed, off to the gulag with them all, lazy capitalist roaders!

Anonymous

Most lectures are boring as shit

Anonymous

Individual learning style will have a significant bearing on whether the information provided in lectures is accessible and interesting to each student. If the lecture consists of a PowerPoint presentation and Q&A session, i.e. an audio-visual learning environment then a kinaesthetic learner isn’t going to be able to access the information presented. At best, a kinaesthetic learner will find such lectures boring. At worst, they will drop out.

2009 Graduate

It has been that way for at least a decade.

Anonymous

Bums.

Anonymous law student

Given grade inflation, Law is one of the easiest degrees to get a 2.1 in (not a first/1st before you start coming for me). Law students who should be getting 2:2s or 3rds or even failing are getting away with 2.1s. Point is if you drop out you really must not like Law or have extenuating circumstances because you can really do nothing for 3 years and come out with a 2.1 in law (I’m a law student and i’ve seen it happen)

Anonymous

I guess it would make people jealous that some people are so unmatched, try a little bit for a couple of weeks, and get a 2:1.

Anon

You’ve completely missed the point. These law students getting 2.1s aren’t extremely clever or “so unmatched”. They’re getting grades for doing the bare minimum because unis don’t wanna look bad. Students getting bad grades reflects on the lecturers teaching and the quality of students which brings down uni ratings for that law course

Anonymous

“Law students more likely to quit uni than their maths, languages and history-studying peers”

Then they are likely to become writers at LC.

Anonymous

😂😂😂😂

Anonymous

The problem is people sign up to study Law thinking it’s all glamour and fun and then realise it’s actually quite difficult and not always a thrill a minute. Same could be said about expectations of working as a lawyer generally. It’s not like Suits or Law and Order. The intense marketisation of university courses is to blame.

Anonymous

It is not difficult unless you are not up to it.

Anonymous

I disagree. Law is one of those courses where it can be as easy as you make it or as hard as you make it depending on what you’re aiming for. Sure, if you just wanna pass then you can write crap essays and just about get away with it. But if you’re aiming for a first in law, it’s difficult. Law is statistically the easiest course to get a 2.1 in but the hardest to get a first in

Anonymous

So where are those statistics from? Classic desmond explanation – makes a statement, but provides no evidential basis.

Anonymous

I find it somewhat amusing that the people claiming that your undergraduate degree is irrelevant are likely the people that bash others for the university they went to.
People really like to punch down here.

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