Lawyers unite on 3 July to join the Pride London Parade, celebrating and promoting diversity in the profession. It is just 15 years since the Law Society added sexual orientation to its code of practice in respect of discrimination, which illustrates just how contemporary the diversity debate remains in so many of its strands – and how much progress has been made in recent times.
Other developments in this sphere are less encouraging. Trainee debt is soaring; 35% have debts of over £15,000 and 55% of more than £10,000. And this is before the government lifts the tuition fee cap, which could treble these figures. Would you have gone to university in the certain knowledge you would graduate owing £50,000?
Research published this week by the Sutton Trust Educational Charity showed that a big rise in tuition fees is likely to lead to a dramatic fall in the number of teenagers aspiring to go to university – with those from poorer backgrounds most likely to abandon hope of getting a degree. Staff and students at more than 70 colleges and universities demonstrated against funding cuts, warning of a ‘lost generation’ of learners.
As the years pass, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation and disability are likely to diminish in importance as determinants of access to a career (and success within it). That’s a good thing, of course. But in a US-style market for higher education, how much money your parents have got is going to become much more important.
Is it time for a graduate tax?