The second-year results of the Law Student 2000 study by Mike Cuthbert, a lecturer at University College Northampton, reveals that predicted debt levels have soared from £12,000 to £16,000 in the space of a year.
|'Some firms offer bursaries, but they tend not to recruit from ethnic minorities or disadvantaged families'
Mike Cuthbert, University College Northampton
The findings have sparked fears that law students in 2006 could be saddled with a debt burden of around £30,000, once the potential cost of top-up fees and the LPC or BVC are taken into account.
"What impact is that going to have on the profile of people coming into the law?" Cuthbert asked. "Some firms offer bursaries or living costs, but they tend not to recruit from ethnic minorities or people from disadvantaged families."
While bodies such as the Law Society and Bar Council will put pressure on LPC and BVC providers to keep their fees down, Cuthbert warns that law departments are likely to be used as cash cows by universities eager to top their fees up as much as possible.
Greater competition for training contracts and the cost of legal education could cause some students to reject law as "too much of a risk", said Cuthbert.
"[Top-up fees] will deter people, especially those from poorer families, from going on [to become lawyers]."