Government has pledged some $17.5 million to cover 25 per cent of the total tuition fees for Guyanese students entering the Hugh Wooding Law School (HWLS) in Trinidad and Tobago.
Parliament recently approved the payment by Government for academic years 2016-2018.
The sum to be paid for the law students is $17.9 million or US$85,000 per-annum.
Parliament’s approval has come, even as the University of Guyana (UG) and the University of the West Indies (UWI) remain in consultation over the automatic entry of the 25 Guyanese Bachelor of Law (LLB) graduates.
Last year, the 25 students were denied automatic entry to HWLS by the Council of Legal Education (CLE), which cited overcrowding of the facility. Following this, the calls for the establishment of a local law school took on new urgency.
Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Basil Williams blamed the previous Administration for cancelling the subsidy contributions to HWLS and CLE, but said when the matter was first discussed in Cabinet, there was no funding for that exercise.
In fact, former Attorney General Anil Nandlall had said that the contribution each territory made was used to subsidise the tuition fees which students were required to pay. He said the practice was halted by Guyana 15 years ago and never affected the admission of Guyanese students into the Law School. All that meant was that Guyanese students no longer benefited from a subsidised tuition fee and have been paying the full tuition fee since.
Nandlall had said further that the previous Administration was able to facilitate a 10-year agreement towards the automatic entry of local law students to the HWLS following negotiations with that body, but noted that they exited office in 2015, before the agreement could be signed.
“In the end, not only did we succeed in retaining the quota of 25 for Guyanese national graduates, but were able to secure an additional 10 places for non-Guyanese national graduates of the said law programme… I explained to him (Williams) that the hard work is finished and that all he needs to do is to ensure that the agreement, which was being drafted by UG and UWI, is signed and taken to the CLE for their signature because it is a tripartite agreement,” Nandlall further stated.
“That’s the issue. Why after one year, the negotiated agreement has not been signed?” Nandlall queried.