Guyana’s law school applicants in limbo

Several Guyanese students, who have already applied and paid fees to sit the entrance examination for the Hugh Wooding Law School, are seeking answers in the light of the recent decision by the Council of Legal Education (CLE) to bar all non-UWI students from entering the law school.

Due to capacity limitations, the council in February decided that Guyana’s top 25 performing law students would not be allowed into Hugh Wooding in keeping with prior agreements. Legal Affairs Minister Anil Nandlall, who broke the news in March, had further clarified that a decision was also taken against persons who might have been looking to gain entry into Hugh Wooding this year via the entrance examination.

As a result of intervention made by the Government of Guyana, Chairman of the Caribbean Community Ralph Gonsalves wrote to the CLE requesting the reversal of the decision against Guyana’s students and for a revision of the system under which legal education is provided in the Caribbean. Nandlall says government anticipates a favourable response from the CLE.

It is uncertain if the council has responded to Gonsalves’ letter and Jacqueline Samuels-Brown, CLE’s Chairperson, was unavailable for a comment yesterday.

In the meantime, several persons who applied to sit the entrance examination to gain access into Hugh Wooding are questioning the status of their applications. Stabroek News understands that quite a few of them have applied to sit the exam before the council’s decision was made public.

The applications were not free.

The process includes applying through the Norman Manley Law School to sit the entrance examination, while sending a corresponding application to Hugh Wooding as this is the institution the student would attend if he/she is successful in the exam. In all, students are required to pay non-refundable fees amounting to US$165 ($34,650), which is S$150 ($31,500) towards the sitting of the exam, and the remaining US$15 ($3,150) for their application to Hugh Wooding.

The prospective students are already concerned because of the council’s decision, and whatever optimism they possess is evaporating daily, particularly since they are yet to be sent their packages for the examination, which is slated to take place in July. One young student told Stabroek News that she applied since January and is yet to receive her package. She said she was not bothered much when a month passed and her package had not arrived, but became agitated when she learned that she might not be able to go to Hugh Wooding via the entrance examination. Her anxiety prompted her to call the school on several occasions but she says she was told that the person she needed to speak with on the matter was either busy or not around. She also reportedly sent several emails to Hugh Wooding seeking clarification, but is yet to receive a response.

Another student, who said he called the Norman Manley Law School yesterday, explained to this newspaper that the school official he spoke with could not give a definitive answer on what will become of the applications coming from Guyana. He said the person informed him that examination packages will be sent out later this month, but he said when he asked if the council’s decision had affected the applications of Guyanese the person seemed unaware of the decision.

He said the person he spoke with attempted to clarify the matter with the school’s Assistant Registrar (AR). This did not help though, as the AR reportedly said she had not been informed of the decision in writing, although she had heard about it.

Essentially, officials at the school could not say what will become of the applications, and the young man said he was told to wait and see if his package comes.



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