$3000 up-front fee for NSW law students

Issue 

$3000 up-front fee for NSW law students

By Karen Fletcher

SYDNEY — The three-month professional legal practice course at the College of Law will cost students $3000 plus materials fees of around $250, up front, in 1996. The college says the fee will rise significantly in following years to reflect more closely the "real cost" of delivering the course.

The acting director of the college, Neville Carter, announced the college board's decision at a meeting of representatives of NSW law students on April 18. He said the relatively "low" figure of $3000 had been set for 1996 to "cushion" the impact of up-front fees for law students already in the "pipeline".

The fee is only one of a large number being introduced throughout Australia for postgraduate courses following the federal government's deregulation of universities' ability to charge fees for such courses in November 1993.

The introduction of a fee for the same type of course at the Australian National University sparked student protests culminating in a nine-day occupation of the university administration last year. Wollongong University is planning to deliver a similar course at a cost to students of $9000, and Bond University has priced its proposed legal practice course at $12,000.

Following the legislative changes, the Council of the University of Technology, of which the College of Law has been a part, voted to disaffiliate from the College of Law in September 1994, thus depriving the college of federal government funds. The college will now become a private institution, and has been forced to seek funding to supplement that provided by the NSW Law Society from interest on solicitors' trust funds.

Law graduates who do not complete a legal practice course of this type can not gain admission to the legal profession in NSW. The College of Law is the largest provider in the state; about 1000 students will attend the college in 1996.

Law students will be participating in the national day of action on fees being organised for all major centres on May 3.