Law school trio united against fee increases

January 10, 2003

The School of Law at the University of Westminster is one of the most highly rated in the country, gaining a 5 in the latest research assessment exercise. The views of the head of law, Andy Boon, senior lecturer Lisa Webley and researcher Susan Nash, on top-up fees, student poverty and research selectivity mirror those in our survey.

Professor Boon shares the widespread fears about top-up fees. "I am concerned about the introduction of top-up fees, particularly their impact on access."

He said that if differential fees became the norm, then law would come under pressure at many universities to charge significant amounts. "I would be very concerned if certain universities were allowed to cash in on their assumed excellence and consign others to relative poverty," he said.

He added that any attempt to restrict research funding to departments with good RAE scores would be an "incredibly retrograde step".

Dr Webley said: "We have many older students who cannot rely on parents. Already I see students exhausted in class as they are working long shifts as well as studying."

Even if Dr Webley's salary went up as a result of top-up fees - which she considers highly unlikely - she does not feel that this should be at the expense of the students. "I don't want to be paid more to teach exhausted students, knowing that others have been excluded by cost," she said.

Professor Nash chairs the postgraduate department and researches in criminal law. "I've seen this law school transform itself. It has taken young academics and allowed them to pursue research careers. It would be dreadful if universities lost the ability to do that."

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