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Law school makes ‘significant’ cuts to student numbers

Law school makes ‘significant’ cuts to student numbers

A “refocus” for legal education at the University of Queensland has been unveiled, with the annual intake for its law school reduced to afford its undergraduate cohort a more personalised learning experience.

According to the dean of law at the University of Queensland, the TC Beirne School of Law has taken recent steps “to create a more personalised, innovative and world-leading experience for students”.

Professor Sarah Derrington explained that to achieve this, UQ’s law school had cut its student intake numbers with a view to creating a smaller class learning environment.

“Among the changes are a significantly reduced annual student intake and an emphasis on small group teaching,” Professor Derrington said.

The university capped its 2017 undergraduate enrolment numbers to 185 students – a cut of 55 undergraduate law spots from the two years prior, when UQ welcomed 240 new law students respectively.

In 2014, the intake number of students at Queensland’s leading university was 325, meaning that those accepted into the undergraduate law course this year make up just over 56 per cent of the total from three years ago.

“Our highly collaborative learning environment and robust co-curricular programs are designed to ensure every student has an opportunity to contribute to and benefit from being a member of the law school’s community,” Professor Derrington said.

The announcement of UQ’s new strategy for its law program coincided with confirmation of a multimillion refurbishment of the university’s Forgan Smith Building. A total of $35 million has been set aside to update the historic campus building.

UQ is promoting the new state-of-the-art teaching and research facilities alongside what claims to be a more personalised law degree to prospective students.  

Additionally, Professor Derrington said the TC Beirne School of Law was, this year, offering 17 scholarships for aspiring law students who come from a disadvantaged background.  

This is the second year UQ is offering its Leadership, Excellence and Diversity (LEAD) Scholarship, aimed at potential Bachelor of Laws (Honours) students. The scholarship is intended for high achievers from rural and remote areas, low income, Indigenous or refugee families, and those who have faced illness or difficult family circumstances.

Those who would like to study law at university and may have faced setbacks or disruption to their high schooling are being encouraged to apply for the scholarship.

“One of the major hurdles for financially disadvantaged students is the cost of living while undertaking a full-time degree,” Professor Derrington said.

“The LEAD Scholarship provides successful applicants with $7,000 each year for up to five years, alleviating to a large extent the imperative to work.

“Beyond the financial support, [the] scholars also benefit from dedicated academic mentorship and priority access to valuable internship and professional networking opportunities,” she said.

Financial support for the scholarship program is provided by the University of Queensland Endowment Fund.

Applications open this week and will be received until Friday, 8 September.

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