Dean defends Auckland Law School student increase decision

It’s all about equity of access, he says

Dean defends Auckland Law School student increase decision

Andrew Stockley, dean of Auckland University Law School, said that the controversial decision of the school to boost its intake of second-year students is all about equity of access.

Stockley told the New Zealand Law Society that the decision was made to increase equity of access and to make the school more competitive against other law schools in the country. The school has boosted second-year intake this year by 50 to 380, with the possibility of even more slots being opened after this year. The school usually takes in about 1,500 first-year students.

“There is evidence from school leaver reports that some very good students have to leave the region to enhance their chances of getting into law school,” Stockley said. “This has an impact on equity of access. Mobile school-leavers tend to be more affluent and this impacts disproportionately on Māori and Pacific students.”

Stockley also pointed out that Auckland has not expanded while other schools in the country have. He told the Law Society that even in the school took in 500 students for its Part II program, the school will still have a lower proportion of first-year students allowed to continue compared to other schools.

However, the decision has drawn criticism. In October, Auckland law professor Peter Watts QC told NZ Lawyer that the increase weakens the school’s focus on the profession and would “dilute” its student body. Watts was also concerned about staffing compulsory subjects, which was already hard to accomplish even before the increase.

Stockley said, however, that the law school has been given more resources to appoint additional student advisers and academic staff.

“We are the only New Zealand law school ranked among the top 50 law schools in the world. But we have significantly fewer academic staff than the top Australian law schools,” he said.

He also remained confident of the prospects for graduates of the enlarged program, adding that the increase will give the school the resources and staff to expand its careers mentoring program.

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