UG law degree now equivalent to UWI

Stabroek News
September 5, 1998

The battle waged since 1995 to have the University of Guyana degree recognised by the Council of Legal Education (CLE) has been won. The General Council of the CLE at its meeting on Friday in The Bahamas, decided that UG's LL.B. degree awarded from 1998 was equivalent to that awarded by the University of the West Indies (UWI).

News of the victory was given to the Stabroek News by the Attorney General, Charles Ramson SC, from The Bahamas yesterday. Ramson led the Guyana delegation at the meeting. As a result, from next year, twenty-five students, including those not offered places this year, will be admitted to the regional law schools.

The twenty-five will be determined as a result of their performance at UG. However, this year, according to Ramson, only ten would be admitted. The ten would be selected from the twenty-seven graduates who wrote the CLE entrance examination but had not been offered places.

The methodology to be used to determine the ten to be admitted, Ramson said, would be explained on his return to Guyana. Ramson said that he could not say with any precision that all ten were 1998 graduates since there were graduates from the years 1996 and 1997 among the 27 who wrote the examination.

In any case, Ramson said, any 1998 graduate who was unsuccessful at this year's entrance examination, would be eligible for entry next year. This, he said, was because of the resolution approved by the Council which deemed the 1998 LL.B degree awarded by UG to be equivalent to that awarded by UWI.

The names of the ten, he said, would have been forwarded to Information Minister Moses Nagamootoo during the course of yesterday. However, up to press time Nagamootoo had not receieved the fax sent by Ramson. Also according to the Attorney General, the ten to be admitted would be in addition to the six candidates who had already been offered places at Hugh Wooding on the basis of their performance at this year's CLE entrance examination.

One of the six was offered a place after Ramson had intervened with the CLE Admission Board. The twenty-five places made available to UG from next year, Ramson explained, was the quota traditionally accorded to Guyana.

The 1996 UG/UWI Collaborative Agreement on the UG law programme provided for no more than 25 graduates to seek admission to Hugh Wooding. This agreement was entered into by UG as part of its campaign to have its LL.B programme accepted as sufficient qualification for entry to the regional law schools.

The 1998 graduates completed their three-year degree programme under the provisions of the collaborative agreement. The UG/UWI agreement, Ramson said, would now be extended to a tri-partite agreement which would now include the CLE and would serve as a monitoring mechanism to ensure the high standard achieved by the programme was maintained.

Friday's decision by the CLE was arrived at after the Guyana delegation persuaded the Council to bring forward its review of the 1996 UG/UWI Collaborative Agreement. The review was to have been done next year according to a CLE decision at its Council meeting last year.

At Friday's meeting, the CLE had the benefit of the interim report of the Committee of Experts which had been appointed by the CARICOM Heads last year to look at the delivery of legal education in the region.

The Committee visited UG in the course of its investigation earlier this year and its comments on the UG law programme were very favourable, UG law department head, Calvin Eversley, had told Stabroek News last month.

Commenting on the results of this year's entrance examination, Ramson said that the failure rate was rather high with just around 27 of the 176 candidates who wrote the examination obtaining the marks required for admission.

About the fate of the law graduates from UG prior to 1998, Ramson said that they would have to write the entrance examination if they wanted to be admitted to Hugh Wooding as their degrees would not be considered equivalent to that of the UWI degree. However, Ramson said that he had some ideas as to how the UG law graduates who are unable to complete their professional training could do so, but that he would first have to discuss it with his Cabinet colleagues.