Aussie legal education more relevant

The removal of eight British universities from the approved list for admission into the Singapore Bar has, understandably, sparked protests ("Shorter list of approved UK law schools welcomed"; last Thursday).

Questions have been asked, in particular, as to why Australian universities were not similarly reviewed ("Some Aussie varsities 'rated lower', but were not delisted"; last Friday).

Many parents and prospective students may not realise that the legal education one gets from an Australian law school is likely to be more relevant than that from a British university.

Because of Britain's membership in the European Union, the British law course includes compulsory modules on EU law, which has little relevance for the Singapore practice.

At the same time, the British law course does not make modules such as company law compulsory, which is a significant handicap for the returning law graduate seeking Singapore qualification.

On top of that, even for the relevant modules taken, British law itself has diverged from common law (which forms part of Singapore law) in many respects.

There is more commonality between Singapore law and Australian law, than between Singapore law and British law, even for statute law.

The British course is also a three-year course, as compared with the four-year Australian course.

In other words, the UK law graduate may end up having taken far fewer relevant modules than the Australian graduate.

One of the reasons for the British universities' relative popularity is the very fact that they offer a three-year, and not a four-year course. However, at least one Australian university gives a one-year reduction for holders of the Law and Management Diploma from Temasek Polytechnic.

The Singapore Institute of Legal Education has also recently shifted the timing of the Part A Singapore law course (compulsory for all foreign law graduates) to be more suitable for the Australian graduation dates.

Thus, for parents and students who may not be confident of entry into the local law schools, it may not be a bad idea for them to consider the Temasek Polytechnic/Australian university route instead.

- Josephine Chong (Ms)

This article was first published on Feb 03, 2015.
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