The economic burden of studying law is preventing graduate lawyers from pursuing their preferred career path and is an important issue that must be addressed by the Government.
The Australian Law Students' Association (ALSA) has called upon the Government to address the economic burden of studying law as part of its new campaign on higher education.
ALSA's Higher Education Working Party has initiated a lobbying campaign focusing on issues surrounding the Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS), including student income support and tertiary education infrastructure funding.
"Whilst once upon a time law graduates were amongst the highest paid graduates, this is no longer the present situation," said ALSA vice-president (education) Aimee Riley. "Law degrees are amongst the least costly run and yet one of the least funded by government. This allows for little innovation despite students paying the highest contribution to their studies."
According to ALSA, rather than expanding the number of law schools across the country, more needs to be done to ensure that students receive the best possible legal education for the time, effort and money expended. At present, ALSA says many graduates are unable to pay off their accrued HECS debt unless they enter into commercial practice, thereby "removing the freedom from graduate career paths".
"We are yet to see the Government act on concerns expressed in 2008 into the base funding of legal education by the Bradley Review Panel, CALD [Council of Australian Law Deans] and ALSA," said ALSA education officer, Alice Crawford.