Law Students Council Responds to Scottish Parliament Debate on Access to the Legal Profession

The University of Edinburgh Law Students’ Council, supported by other student representative bodies and MSPs from all parties, has been campaigning for the extension of the undergraduate student loan to cover students on the DPLP.  The issue was debated today at Themed Questions in the Scottish Parliament, with Roderick Campbell MSP (SNP) and Jenny Marra MSP (Lab), putting the case for living cost funding to the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, Mike Russell MSP.

Speaking after this afternoon’s exchange in the Scottish Parliament, Tim Haddow from the University of Edinburgh’s Law Students’ Council said:

We are disappointed that the Scottish Government has maintained its line that extending the fees loan to more DPLP students can have a significant impact on access to the legal profession.  The lack of living costs support means that almost all students who could not previously afford to study the DPLP still cannot do so.  Ironically, this means that the additional money the Scottish Government has provided will almost all go to those who could afford to do the course anyway, regardless of their actual need.

In contrast, we are asking the government to extend to DPLP students the same loans from which they benefited as law undergraduates.  These loans are means-tested and will cost the Government relatively little but will have a much greater impact in widening access to the profession.   We urge the Government to reconsider their position on this issue and do their part in avoiding further entrenchment of privilege in the legal profession.

Background

Law graduates wishing to qualify as lawyers must find £11,000 to £13,000 to fund their fees, course materials and living costs before they can undertake the required postgraduate course, the Diploma in Professional Legal Practice.

Although the Scottish Government recently extended the availability of partial support towards the cost of fees (a loan of up to £3,400 is available to all students, covering around half the cost of the fees), the funding gap of £8,000 to £10,000 must be made up by students or their families.  This represents an insurmountable barrier to the legal profession for those from less-privileged backgrounds.

More Information

More information, including profiles of students who are affected, is at the LSC’s campaign website, or contact Tim Haddow on Twitter @TimHaddow.

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