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Non-law students who want to become lawyers have been left stranded after the Government clarified a rule on Career Development Loans (CDL), meaning this subsidised source of funding is no longer available for conversion courses.
Until recently CDLs were offered by three high street banks to fund the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL), the one-year course non-law graduates must complete before they can start the Legal Practice Course.
These loans are attractive to students because they get a lengthy repayment holiday as the Government foots the interest for the duration of the GDL. Fees for the GDL can be as much as 6,000 at some of the leading law schools.
Aspiring barrister Jane Robinson, who is due to start the GDL later this month (September), contacted Lawyer2B.com after Barclays Bank turned down her application for a CDL last month. She said that it came as a shock because the bank agreed, in principle, to lend her the money earlier this year.
Robinson, who has been forced to take the GDL part-time, added: The Learning and Skills Council [LSC] has withdrawn access to the legal profession in one fell swoop after withdrawing a crucial area of funding.
Tom Waldron, whose application for a CDL has also been rejected, said the whole application process was a fiasco.
I was really disappointed, but Im determined to complete the GDL even if it means getting a part-time job. I feel very guilty about putting an additional financial burden on my parents, he added.
It has been widely accepted that CDLs can be used to pay for law conversion courses, with many law schools listing them as a potential source of funding. Two leading law schools told Lawyer2B.com they did not realise that this was a misinterpretation of the rules.
The LSC said in a statement: CDL guidance clearly states that a CDL cannot be used to fund courses intended to lead to another course rather than to employment. However, in August the LSC was approached by one of the CDL banks requesting clarification relating to the eligibility of GDLs and this was given.