The Auckland Law School at the University of Auckland
has increased its Part II student intake from 330 to 380 students, with potentially more places after that, from 2017.
“The Auckland Law School’s Part II student intake has not increased for over a decade, while at the same time Auckland’s population has significantly expanded. These changes will address this,” says Professor Andrew Stockley
“The increase in undergraduate student numbers will provide more opportunities for academically gifted students who want to study at New Zealand’s leading university to pursue a law degree,” the Dean of Law adds.
Currently, high-achieving students are either forced to leave Auckland and study elsewhere to pursue law or give up studying law if they can’t afford to do so elsewhere, the school says.
The increase is said to also allow for more places under the Targeted Admissions Scheme, a move which may help boos representation in the legal profession by helping support more Māori and Pacific students.
The move is not without its critics, however. Last month, Auckland law professor Peter Watts QC told NZ Lawyer
that an increase in student intake threatens to weaken the Law School’s focus on the profession and “dilute” the quality of the student experience.
“I understand that the University's main reason for wanting to increase the size of the Law School is a sense that the current very high entry standards at the Law School are resulting in good students who want to study law having to go elsewhere,” he said.
“At a time when retaining these students would maintain enrolments in Arts subjects, because of conjoint degree study, that currently have falling numbers,” the professor added.
Furthermore, he raised concerns about fully staffing compulsory subjects – a feat already not achieved when the intake was yet to be increased. Watts also said that there is also simply not enough law jobs for graduates and that the school’s global ranking may slip.
However, according to the university, the legal profession has grown over the years and, outside of the big law firms, there are still areas of shortage. MBIE predicts 4.2% annual growth in the legal profession from 2017 to 2019.
The university also highlighted that 90% of their law students take conjoint degrees “and many use their legal training and the skills of analysis and communication gained to succeed in a wide variety of other careers, including government, business and policy advice.”
The Auckland Law School, pledging to continue to have the highest admission standards in the country, will significantly increase its number of full-time academic staff at the same time, the school claims. It also provided the Law School with up to an additional 900 square metres of space.
“This will allow it to provide more small group and innovative teaching and will make the number of full-time academic staff more comparable to higher-ranked law schools such as Melbourne and Sydney. Auckland is the only New Zealand law school ranked among the top 50 in the world and this will help it become even higher ranked,” the school says.
“With significantly more staff, the Auckland Law School will have a much larger research footprint, which is critical for increased international attention, impact and rankings. More staff will also help ensure that the Auckland Law School is a truly comprehensive law school, with strength in all major areas,” adds Professor Stockley.
Professor Watts said last month, however, that the faculty already has had to increase the number of students in major subjects because they are short-staffed.
“The faculty is having to move from the traditional three streams of roughly 100 students to two streams of 150,” he said.
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