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Caricom leaders to discuss impasse over UG law students’ placement at Hugh Wooding Law School

Minister of Legal Affairs and Attorney General Anil Nandlall handing over a copy of the Revised Laws of Guyana to Professor Jacob Opadeyi, Vice Chancellor of the University of Guyana. They also used the opportunity to discuss the Council of Legal Education’s decision to scrap the automatic placement of 25 UG Law Degree graduates at the Hugh Wooding Law School.

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Anil Nandlall  on Wednesday assured that government would spare no effort in resolving the recent decision of the Council for Legal Education to not automatically place 25 University of Guyana (UG) Bachelor of Law (LLB) students at the Hugh Wooding Law School.

As part of an agreement between the Council for Legal Education and UG, every year 25 automatic placements were offered by the Council for Legal Education to UG for entry into its Hugh Wooding Law School. The Council however, recently took the decision that UG’s 2014 batch will not be guaranteed any place at the institution.

In an exclusive interview with Demerara Waves Online News, Nandlall explained that the Council of Legal Education recently decided that only UWI Graduates would gain automatic entry to the Trinidad-based Hugh Wooding Law School and the Norman Manley Law School in Jamaica.

He said that decision was taken after the schools’ principals complained to the Council about overcrowding since UWI’s campuses in Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica began offering the Law Degree programme in an effort to increase access to legal education in the Caribbean. Previously, only UWI’s Barbados campus and the University of Guyana were offering the LLB programme. The CLE’s decision is also expected to affect recently established local universities in Trinidad and Tobago, and Jamaica that have been offering LLB.

“When the Heads permitted these programmes to be run around the Caribbean, they did not consider increasing the capacity of the Law Schools so what you had was repeated overcrowding over the last couple of years which is culminating in 2014 with the Law Schools principals indicating to the Council of Legal Education that they are simply physically incapable of accommodating more students,” Nandlall told Demerara Waves Online News.

Minister Nandlall who met with UG’s Vice Chancellor Professor Jacob Opadeyi, at his office, concerning the issue said that since the decision taken by the Council in February in Barbados, Government has, through the Minister of Foreign Affairs made several interventions including writing to the Secretary General of Caricom, Ambassador Irwin La Rocque and requesting his intervention.

He said Government also sought to engage the Heads of Government to address the issue and they have agreed that the matter will be addressed at the next Heads meeting, which is scheduled to take place this weekend.

“Government considers this as a matter of priority because it puts in jeopardy the life and welfare of a number of students who would be completing the LLB programme at the University of Guyana in the year 2014, and as well, it jeopardises the entire law programme at the university and it jeopardises the future of students who are already in the programme and those students who are desirous of entering the programme,” Minister Nandlall said.

He noted that Government is always committed to ensuring its people, especially its young people have access to education as it sees education as a vital tool to combat poverty and to advance citizens’ development. “Therefore Government will spare no effort in ensuring that this impasse is revolved in a manner that is beneficial to our students at the university,” he said.

Meanwhile Professor Opadeyi said that he was pleased that government had chosen to intervene in the matter, and that the involvement is a speedy one with the matter being tabled this weekend.

“Our students are not just Guyanese; we have students from outside of Guyana who come and study with us, so our interest here is to fight for the rights of our students so that they can become professionals. If we deny them the opportunity to have professional education will not able to move on as a country,” he said.