find the latest legal job
Corporate Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Highly-respected, innovative and entrepreneurial Not-for-Profit · Competency based Board
View details
Chief Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Dynamic, high growth organisation · ASX listed market leader
View details
In-house Projects Lawyer | Renewables / Solar | 2-5 Years PQE
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: All Australia
· Help design the future · NASDAQ Listed
View details
Property lawyer - Melbourne
Category: Property Law | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Impressive client list, national firm · Well-led and high-performing team
View details
Senior family lawyer - Melbourne
Category: Family Law | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Outstanding national firm · High-calibre family law team
View details
Law students weigh in on defeated university bill

Law students weigh in on defeated university bill

Defeated university deregulation bill

The Australian Law Students’ Association (ALSA) has claimed that the Senate rightly blocked the federal government’s Higher Education and Research Amendment Bill, which could have prevented poorer students from gaining a law degree.

The Bill, which was passed in the House of Representatives in February, was voted down in the Senate by 34 votes to 30 on 17 March.

The legislation would have uncapped university fees and allowed institutions to set their own prices for tertiary courses.

ALSA said law students have expressed concerns that the Bill could have resulted in higher university fees, with no guarantee that the extra funds would be used to improve legal education.

The student body also cautioned against measures that could “marginalise or disenfranchise students from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds from accessing legal tertiary education”.

Another legal body has claimed the reform could unfairly disadvantage women in the law.

Victorian Women Lawyers (VWL) convenor Kirsten Adams said the proposed legislation could lead to an increase of $100,000 to $200,000 in the cost of law degrees and see women lawyers carrying HECS debts longer than their male peers.

“University fee regulation could create further barriers for women in the law; women who continue to face pay inequality in the legal sector and often work part-time to balance family responsibilities,” Ms Adams said.

“Some of our members are already facing greater debt when studying law at a postgraduate level, as Australia has had a deregulated fee system operating for some time at that level.”

Statistically, women take longer to pay for those fees under the HECS system due to a number of factors, including career interruption, she added.

While ALSA welcomed the Senate’s rejection of the Bill, it maintained that higher education reform is necessary, including the expansion of the current FEE-HELP cap.

Currently, some Juris Doctor degrees exceed FEE-HELP loan limits, forcing law students to pay thousands upfront in order to complete their final subjects and practical legal training.

The FEE-HELP limit in 2015 is $97,728 for most students, but some Juris Doctor (JD) degrees cost close to, or above, $100,000. A full-time, full fee law student at the University of Sydney, for example, will have to fork out around $108,000 to complete a JD.

Law students are also required to pay for practical legal training on top of the cost of a JD, which tips even more students over the FEE-HELP limit.

Leo Cussen’s onsite practical training course, for example, costs $9,450.

According to ALSA, the high cost of legal education places a significant financial burden on law students and deters many from working in community legal centres or the broader public sector.

The association urged the federal government to consult with educators and industry bodies on the issue of higher education reform so that future bills better represent the interests of tertiary students and the wider community.

Education Minister Christopher Pyne has vowed to reintroduce the Higher Education and Research Amendment Bill.

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Law students weigh in on defeated university bill
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Warning
Aug 23 2017
NT Law Society sounds alarm on mandatory sentencing
The Law Society Northern Territory has issued a warning over mandatory sentencing, saying it hasn’...
Unite
Aug 22 2017
Professionals unite in support of marriage equality
The presidents of representative bodies for solicitors, barristers and doctors in NSW have come toge...
Aug 21 2017
Is your firm on the right track for gig economy gains?
Promoted by Crowd & Co. The way we do business, where we work, how we engage with workers, ev...
APPOINTMENTS
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
opinion
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
Help
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...