Govt slammed by profession over top-up fees

Both branches of the legal profession have condemned the Governments variable top-up fees policy, voicing fears that law degrees will attract the highest price and deter poorer students from becoming lawyers.

Commentators agree that universities, both old and new, will charge the maximum 3,000 top-up fee for law degrees, as they are popular and can be run for relatively low overheads a point that was highlighted by Prime Minister Tony Blair last month when he appeared on the BBCs Newsnight programme.

A Bar Council spokesman said that if law degrees turned out to be the most expensive, this could adversely affect the professions move to become more diverse.

We all want to work towards a more representative judiciary, and the variable fees will militate against this, he said.

Law Society head of education and training Julie Swan welcomed the abolition of upfront fees, but added: Some students may be deterred from following a law degree if they are charged at the highest cost.

Law schools are more receptive to the proposals because of the cash injection that fees will bring.

Northumbrias law school head Phillip Kenny said he was looking forward to the policys implementation, saying it would help law schools such as his, which run expensive clinical programmes.