Law Society calls on Scottish government to lend greater support to Diploma students

Christine McLintock

The incoming president of the Law Society of Scotland has said students are at risk of being priced out of the legal profession unless the Scottish government creates more support for them.

Christine McLintock, who will take over from Alistair Morris as president of the Law Society this week, said funding is still a problem for those looking to enter the profession.

Currently, students taking the Diploma in Professional Legal Practice can take a loan of up to £3,400 which covers about half of tuition fees.

At the beginning of the next academic year they will also have access to a loan of up to £4,500 for living costs from the next academic year.

But Ms McLintock has called for the government to do more, speaking to Holyrood magazine she said: “If we’re genuine about allowing people from all backgrounds into the profession, I think it would help if we had full loan funding available on a means-tested basis for those that need it.

“Obviously, in terms of the degree, tuition fees are met. But for the postgraduate requirement, which is a requirement for good reasons, there are no grant awards, but partial loan funding is available.

“It is something that we have been – and I personally have been – speaking to ministers about and trying to get a change on because I think it would make a difference for the small number of people who really struggle financially to get through that leg of the qualification.”

A spokeswoman for the government said that eligible students undertaking the Diploma would, in the 2015-16 academic year, be able to apply for support of up to £7,900.

She added: “The Scottish government also awards discretionary funds to universities in Scotland.

“These funds can assist eligible students, including those studying for the Diploma, who are experiencing financial difficulty while studying.

“A review of support for taught postgraduate study in Scotland, chaired by Professor Bryan MacGregor of Aberdeen University, will report in summer 2015.

“The Scottish government will consider the suggestions for change outlined in that report.”

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