SQE: solicitors’ leaders unveil funding guidance as UK government stalls on loans

The Law Society has unveiled new guidance on funding for the new routes to qualifying as a solicitor.

The Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) will begin on 1 September 2021 and many aspiring solicitors are looking at how to qualify under the new system.

The varying costs and types of funding available are likely to influence the choices SQE candidates make. To help with these decisions we have published information on the different routes and funding available.

Law Society of England and Wales president I. Stephanie Boyce said: “Our new guidance is a helpful tool for aspiring solicitors, as it outlines the total cost of the SQE and the funding that’s available.

“While some aspiring solicitors will be sponsored by their firm or be able to access graduate or school leaver solicitor apprenticeships, many others will need to consider funding options for the different stages of preparation.

“Many will have to fund some of the SQE preparation or assessments themselves and may wish to apply for available grants, scholarships or the private student loans being offered by some providers of freestanding SQE preparation courses.

“We are concerned, however, that there is no government funding for freestanding SQE preparation courses or the costs of the SQE assessments themselves. Any funding gap would disproportionately impact those from a lower socio-economic background.

“It’s also concerning that the Disabled Students’ Allowance won’t be available for many courses or the assessments.

“We have been urging the government to provide a loan or funding for those who need it to meet the preparation costs, in order to enable all candidates to choose the route that best suits them based on suitability, not the availability of loans or funding.”

The UK government recently unveiled its ‘levelling up’ agenda, which sought to reduce regional disparities across the country.*

It aims to reduce inequalities that exist between people living in different parts of the UK by making more opportunities available in the places that most need them.

I. Stephanie Boyce added: “Narrow funding options could disadvantage aspiring solicitors from lower socio-economic backgrounds. Potential entrants should not have to choose a course based purely on what funding is available.

“This could have a knock-on effect on the type of person who enters the profession, affecting social mobility and diversity in law firms, in-house teams and the judiciary.

“We urge the UK government to reconsider its position and seek ways to provide funding for freestanding SQE preparation courses and SQE assessments, so we can build on the great progress that has been made on diversity in the solicitor profession.”

Notes to editors

About the Law Society

The Law Society is the independent professional body that works globally to support and represent solicitors, promoting the highest professional standards, the public interest and the rule of law.

Press office contact: Naomi Jeffreys | 020 8049 3928

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