Scottish Young Lawyers Association’s current thinking on the Diploma grants/loans issue; and a preview of coming events

Last year, the Scottish Government announced that it was changing the system of postgraduate funding in Scotland, with the result that the previous grants for 300 students on the Diploma course towards their fees would be scrapped and replaced with state funded loans.

At that time there was a considerable amount of confusion as to how many of these state-funded loans would be available for Diploma/PEAT 1 students, and on what basis they would be distributed. In the last few weeks, the Government has confirmed that all students on the PEAT 1 course in 2012-13 shall be entitled to a state funded loan of £3,400 towards their fees, as long as they are resident in Scotland and have not previously received postgraduate funding.

SYLA is very disappointed that there will no longer be any grants, but changing the position from grants for fewer than half of all Diploma students, to state funded loans for all, may assist students who previously would not have had the grades to get the grant or the private means to finance the Diploma. The 300 students who would have got grants are worse off; the 350 or so who wouldn’t, are better off.

The SYLA committee believe that although the grants were always distributed on the basis of academic merit rather than financial need, that should not detract from their importance in promoting fair access to the Diploma/PEAT 1. That they have been removed without consultation is a serious failing on the part of the Scottish Government. The current arrangements have only been confirmed for the coming academic year, and the Government will confirm the future position in the autumn. SYLA is calling on the Government to engage in meaningful and transparent consultation with the legal profession on the future of postgraduate funding.

Full programme

The committee has spent the first few weeks of the year working hard to continue its CPD programme for young lawyers in Scotland. The “So you want to be a lawyer?” seminar series for students, trainees and NQs will continue, with sessions on construction in Glasgow and IP/IT in Edinburgh. Our “Beyond the Basics” series for 3-10 years’ PQE solicitors will cover the Bribery Act in Glasgow, rural property in Inverness and career progression in Edinburgh. In conjunction with Oxfam International Women’s Day, SYLA will host a “Women in Law” evening in March, with talks from Lady Cosgrove, Maggie Scott QC, Dorothy Bain QC and others. The annual conference and AGM will be held at the end of May in Edinburgh. Further education events, including the annual lecture, will be announced very soon.

And for all young lawyers needing to let their hair down, there will be social events in Aberdeen and Edinburgh, a black tie ball in Glasgow at the end of April, and the annual summer BBQ at Indigo Yard in Edinburgh in June. Full details and booking information can be found on our website

  • SYLA is still looking for employment solicitors to join its list of advisers for young lawyers: see Journal, October 2011, 42, and
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