Students will pay £3,980 to sit the new Solicitors Qualifying Exam, the regulator has announced, in a drive to make entry to the profession more accessible.
SQE1 – a multiple choice legal knowledge test – will cost £1,558, while SQE 2 will cost £2,422 for written and oral tasks testing practical legal knowledge and skills. The figure is within the SRA's estimate of £3,000 - £4,500.
The fees do not include training costs, however, which are expected to be substantial. BPP University’s new SQE-friendly conversion course will cost £11,590 to study in London. Meanwhile, US legal education giant Barbri said it will provide a SQE preparation course for around £7,000. It is also possible that some firms will ask future trainees to take a SQE 2 preparation course.
Paul Philip, SRA chief executive, said: ‘Our priority is creating a single rigorous assessment that gives everyone confidence that aspiring solicitors meet high, consistent standards at the point of entry into the profession. We also need to make sure the SQE is value for money and we are today confirming competitive assessment fees well within the original estimates.
‘In the current system, many people are put off by the high up-front costs of the Legal Practice Course - up to almost £17,000 - with no guarantee of a training contract. The SQE should give people more training options and more affordable ways to qualify, including earn-as-you-learn routes such as apprenticeships.’
The SQE is due to be introduced in autumn 2021, but has yet to be signed off by the Legal Services Board.
Law Society president Simon Davis said: ‘We welcome the certainty the SRA is providing on the costs for the SQE assessments.
‘However, the issue still remains that loans have not been made available to help students meet the cost of qualifying, which could have significant implications for social mobility and access to the profession. We have been having productive conversations with the government on this issue and we will continue to push for the provision of loans for SQE applicants.’