LONDON (Within the Law) - SQE fees represent a serious threat to social mobility. That’s the claim from junior lawyers who say they are ‘extremely concerned’ that the solicitors qualifying exam will create a two-tier profession, after the University of Law published tuition fees.
The Junior Lawyers Division argued it is highly misleading to claim the super exam is cheaper than the current route because candidates will feel pressured to take expensive SQE courses in order to make a good impression.
The University of Law has developed a masters course which will eventually replace the LPC which costs £17,500. The new course will cost between £12,000 and £16,500. However, students will also have to pay the regulator £3,980 to sit the exams.
In addition to this, city law firms are said to be developing their own SQE courses. A consortium of six major law firms has already appointed BPP to create bespoke courses that go ‘far beyond’ the current SQE.
Those students who sit these additional SQE courses will be at an advantage as employers will give extra credit to those students who have undertaken the extra qualifications.
“Aspiring solicitors will opt to take the preparatory courses as it is likely that employers will give credit in assessment/interview to those who have undertaken an additional level of legal education, and it is also unlikely that those wishing to pursue a career in the legal sector would take a gamble on passing the SQE without having studied the preparatory courses,” said the JLD.
The Law Society, meanwhile, has said the question of how assessments and SQE courses will be funded remains open. President of the Society, David Greene, said the usual student funding will still apply. However, he agreed that it is an issue that ‘funding has not been made available for standalone preparation courses and assessment fees for the SQE – which could have significant implications for those less able to afford the costs.”
The Law Society says it will continue to push for loans for SQE applicants.
(Written by Tom Cropper, edited by Klaudia Fior)