Law students in a bind
Barbadian students have just three months to find $29 000 if they want to complete their Legal Education Certificates (LECs) at the Hugh Wooding Law School, come September.
This is as a result of the Government of Barbados owing the Council of Legal Education more than 12 months of arrears in its contribution to the regional body.
In an email sent to the Barbadian cohort yesterday, the Trinidadian school said new Barbadian students would be required to pay the full economic cost of TT$97 546 (BDS$28 969), plus compulsory fees of TT$820 (BDS$244) to register if the arrears were not settled. Returning students would have to shell out BDS$28 125, plus BDS$169 in compulsory fees to register, come September. This was nearly five times the BDS$2 800 and BDS$2 675 in tuition costs those students currently paid.
A student, who did not want to be identified, said many final-year students were particularly afraid they would not be able to get their LECs once they completed their exams.
“Obviously the time they’re giving us this notice, for some people it’s going to be extremely hard to go to different financial institutions. I personally am not on a student loan. But if I were, it would be very hard to get another financial institution to lend me money on top of that,” he added.
The student explained there was precedent for this as students from Dominica did not receive their LECs from Hugh Wooding after their government owed the council. He added some of those Dominicans were forced to go to a financial institution for a loan as their country was in arrears.
He said he knew a first-year student who was also fearful as he currently had a loan from the Student Revolving Loan Fund which capped off at $30 000, potentially leaving him thousands of dollars short.
According to the council’s Regulation 13 (3) (a) and (b), students admitted to Hugh Wooding while their country was in arrears for 12 months or more, would be required to pay the economic costs. The regulation also noted students would be reimbursed the difference between the normal fee and economic cost if their government cleared the arrears.
When contacted, president of the Barbados Bar Association, Liesel Weekes, said this was a situation which previously reared its head.
She said at a council meeting last year it was indicated that Barbados had over 12 months in arrears, and at that time a notice was sent out. Weekes said she subsequently contacted and met with Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite to discuss the matter.
During another meeting earlier this year, she added, she was told the situation with the arrears was dealt with and so she was not sure what took place between January and now.
Efforts to reach Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, June Crawford, as well as Brathwaite, for comment were unsuccessful. (AD)