Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Thursday, 10 Mar 1994

Vol. 440 No. 3

Written Answers. - Access to Legal Courses.

Edward Nealon


133 Mr. Nealon asked the Minister for Education if her attention has been drawn to the difficulties being experienced by students of the Business and Legal Studies (BBLS) degree course in University College, Dublin, with getting exemptions to facilitate easier access to both Blackhall Place and Kings Inns in view of the fact that a similar course in the University of Limerick has been granted such exemptions; if her attention has been further drawn to the fact that since the inception of the BBLS degree course in 1991 the students have been consistently promised the necessary exemptions, that many of the BBLS students are particularly aggrieved that UCD should initiate such a course without firstly securing exemptions which the course deserves; that the commerce stream of the degree fulfils the requirements necessary to pursue any career in the commercial field but that it is impossible for BBLS students to pursue a legal career notwithstanding the fact that they studied five of the eight obligatory subjects for entrance to Blackhall Place and Kings Inns; the steps, if any, she can take to ensure that the BBLS students get the exemptions for the five particular subjects and that the Law Faculty of UCD provide a short term intensive course which would allow them to study the remaining three subjects; and if she will make a statement on the matter.

Both the Kings Inns and the Law Society are autonomous bodies and receive no State funding in respect of their educational activities. Entry requirements to courses of education and training at these institutions is a matter for the authorities of the institution concerned.

As a constituent college to the National University of Ireland, University College Dublin is an autonomous self-governing institution. The Minister for Education has, accordingly, no function in its day to day operation. Exemptions which professional bodies would give in respect of degrees from the National University of Ireland would be a matter for private negotiation between either the university or college and the bodies concerned.

I have, however, had the matter taken up with the UCD Law Faculty by the Higher Education Authority. I understand that the business and legal studies degree course commenced in October 1991 and the first students will graduate in the summer of 1995. I have also been informed through the Higher Education Authority that the course was not designed to qualify people for the legal profession. The intention it seems was that graduates with both business and some legal training would be useful to commerical companies.
The UCD Law Faculty has assured the Higher Education Authority that at no stage were students given to understand that exemptions would be given in respect of this degree by either the Law Society or the Kings Inns.
I understand, however, that because of the extent to which legal matters are covered by the course many students have decided that their future lies in the legal profession rather than in the commercial world. Accordingly, I am informed that the UCD authorities have applied to the Incorporated Law Society for exemption from the legal elements of their courses.
Given that the Incorporated Law Society is an autonomous body, however, it would not be appropriate for me to intervene in their day to day operations particularly in regard to the qualifications required for entry to training as a solicitor.
In relation to the Kings Inns, I am informed that the UCD authorities have not applied for exemptions.