Why is this an issue for fair ‘access to the legal profession’?

As our campaign is for an extension to the student loans scheme to include the DPLP among those courses that qualify for living-costs loans, it is being dealt with by the Education areas within the Scottish Government.

However, we are clear that the DPLP is not like most postgraduate courses.  It is compulsory for access to the legal profession, so if students cannot afford to undertake the DPLP, they cannot become lawyers in Scotland.  In this regard, it is much more closely comparable to courses such as the Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE)  or the Diploma in Social Work, which do receive living costs support.

The Scottish Government has recognised that less-well-off students were already under-represented among DPLP students but, as they confirm in their letter,  only around 30% of DPLP students were eligible for living-costs support from the previous scheme, as opposed to 70-80% on other postgraduate courses.  The implications of this are clear: the current funding settlement clearly prevents able students without well-off parents or other independent income from entering the Scottish legal profession.

We therefore strongly believe the DPLP should be treated as a special case, and placed in the category of courses, such as the PGDE, that do attract living-costs loans.

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