Student loans are unlikely to be available to graduates taking the Solicitors Qualifying Exam, the super-regulator has said, as questions around funding for the new qualification route continue to loom large.
Chris Nichols, director of regulation and policy at the Legal Services Board, said today that the SQE raises ‘affordability concerns’ as it is ‘unlikely’ government funding and student loans will be available.
However, he said the SQE pathway could cost £8,000 less than the current qualification route and students will have more opportunity to earn as they learn.
Nichols told the Westminster Legal Policy Forum: ‘We were satisfied, based on fees we’ve seen published so far, that there should be cheaper routes available. The figures we have seen suggest - and I know there are more providers to show their hands – savings of around £8,000 that could be made. So really quite significant overall savings.’
Responding to the official approval of the SQE last month, the Law Society said the issue of loans could have ‘significant implications for social mobility’.
David Greene, Law Society president, said: ‘We have been having productive conversations with the government on this issue and will continue to push for the provision of loans for SQE applicants.’
Julie Brannan, director of education and training at the Solicitors Regulation Authority, the legal training market and employers are taking the education shake-up on board. 'It's really startling how quickly the market is adapting…We’re seeing greater variety and choice in solicitor training; we’re seeing, yes, traditional courses, but also great impetus around educational tech to deliver online courses,' she said.