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Top 25 UG Law grads gets automatic entry to Hugh Wooding; govt mulls cushioning impact of tuition fee hike

The Hugh Wooding Law School.

This year’s top 25 graduating students of the Department of Law at the University of Guyana (UG) will be granted automatic entry into the Hugh Wooding Law School (HWLS) this year to read for their Legal Education Certificates (LECs).

The government of Guyana is also reportedly mulling possible ways to help UG graduates who are prospective second year students at the school cope with a fee hike at the school.

This is according to Minister of Governance, Raphael Trotman, who told the press, during a post-Cabinet press conference on Wednesday that “we have received confirmation that the policy of automatic entry is in place.”

Trotman told reporters this information was relayed to him by Minister of Legal Affairs and Attorney General (AG), Basil Williams.

“We were informed about the government of Guyana’s success in securing automatic entry for graduates from the University of Guyana’s law programme into Hugh Wooding Law School in Trinidad and Tobago,” Trotman said.

The prospective graduating class of 2015 will welcome this information. Final exams have concluded, but all grades have not been released. As such the list of the top 25 students is not yet cemented. Further, the relevant authorities will still be required to ascertain whether every student who made the cut is able to take up the placement. If a student is not able to take up the placement, for one reason or another, the space is offered to the student just below.

Students who make the top 25 but eventually refuse placement at HWLS more often than not do so as a result of their inability to pay the required tuition. Formerly, the cost to pursue the two-year LEC programme at HWLS cost some TT$65,700 (some G$2.4 million) per year, totaling TT$131,400 (some G$4,204,800) for the entire programme.

On Tuesday, HWLS revealed that it has raised these fees to TT$ 91,014 (some G$2,912,448 million) yearly, totaling TT$182,082 (some G$5,824,448). The increased fees will be an issue for students looking to start LEC studies at HWLS this year, but it is an even larger issue for UG graduates who are already at HWLS and are looking to start their second year in the 2015/2016 academic year.

These students were not catering for such a large increase and are not certain when/if they will be able to raise the difference. Their situations are made grimmer due to the fact that HWLS now requires payment of 100 percent of each year’s tuition by a strictly enforced deadline. Responding to questions from the press on the matter, Trotman said “we are also aware…that the fees or the method of payment has also been adjusted and well, of course it will cause, and has created hardships for most of the students.”

He said that “Cabinet is of course is going to discuss this. Previously, scholarships were given for law students, but cabinet is of course looking at all areas…to be explored to see how we can alleviate the burden that has now come.”

He also made it clear that “…government will not assume the responsibility of paying the fees,” but said that it will “try to work with the Hugh Wooding Law School, the Council of Legal Education, and perhaps speak to some financial institutions…” to see if some provision can be made.