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Students cry foul! Norman Manley Law School increases tuition by 15.5%

Published:Tuesday | March 22, 2016 | 12:00 AM

The Norman Manley Law School (NMLS) has announced an increase in tuition fees.

Jamaican students will now be required to pay the sum of $940,812 per year. This represents a 15.5 per cent increase in tuition fees from the last academic year. Students will have to pay an additional amount of approximately $14,000 for miscellaneous fees.

Principal at the NMLS Carol Aina has said the increase in the fees is unavoidable and that the school will continue to seek scholarships and bursaries for needy students.

According to Aina, the 2016/2017 budget for NMLS approved by the Council of Legal Education at the end of January does not include surplus to allow for any further expansion or upgrade of facilities.

?In other words, it is the bare minimum which has been included for expenditure,? she said in an email response to The Gleaner.

The law school accounts income from government contributions, tuition fees, continuing legal education courses and sale of publications as well as other miscellaneous income.

In regards to government contributions, Aina pointed out that the Government of Jamaica (GOJ) does not pay a subvention to NMLS based on the number of Jamaican students in the programme; unlike the Governments of Trinidad & Tobago and The Bahamas where the other law schools are hosted. The GOJ pays a fixed amount to the school irrespective of the number of students.

She disclosed that despite the inadequacy of the subsidy it is nonetheless applied across the board for the 450 Jamaican nationals at the school.

In order to keep pace with an increase in student numbers, NMLS has increased its professional and administrative staff both at the school and the Legal Aid Clinic. These according to Aina, are other cost factors which have warranted the increase.

?The Legal Aid Clinic must be staffed by experienced attorneys-at-law to ensure that both our duty to the client is maintained and that students have sufficient files to work on. This is especially so when a significant number of graduates are now going into practice on their own...while the increase is regretted it is unavoidable if quality is to be maintained,? she said.

Fees for students who matriculated to second year of the programme for the 2015/2016 academic year increased by 28 per cent and 48 per cent for first year students.

This increase, Aina told The Gleaner last year, was necessary to facilitate the expansion programme that the school has been undertaking.

However, students are upset about the increase in fees and have asked for a review. However, Aina told students that her hands are tied as the Board which she reports to has already made its decision. She however, noted that the school has been facilitating students paying fees in tranches and will continue doing so, though this agreement usually leaves the institution in a bind as some students fail to pay the fees on time.