The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has announced the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) fees will be increasing by 3.4% from October 2022.
SQE1 will rise from £1,558 to £1,622 and SQE2 from £2,422 to £2,493.
Law Society of England and Wales president I. Stephanie Boyce said:
“We understand that businesses and institutions across England and Wales are increasing their fees because of inflation.
But we are concerned about what this could mean for aspiring solicitors from lower socio-economic backgrounds, especially at a time when we know the cost of living is due to skyrocket again in October.
It was hoped that the SQE would increase social mobility. However, with rising costs and a lack of loans for those who need them, this aim looks less achievable.
We repeat our call to the UK government to provide access to funding for those wishing to take the SQE to ensure everybody has the same opportunities and choices available to them regardless of background.”
This is not the first time the SQE has come under fire since its introduction in Autumn 2021. In January, the results of the first round of exams revealed a concerning diversity gap. According to the SRA, 65% of white candidates passed compared to 44% of Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups. Research shows that for the previously conducted LPC, 65% of white students passed compared with 52% of Asian/Asian British students and 39% of Black students.
In March, the SRA again came under fire after surreptitiously announcing that some SQE students’ qualification will be delayed by seven months. The announcement was made during a Q&A webinar regarding the results of the first batch of exams. Students who take their first exam (SQE1) in July 2022 will not receive their results in time to sit the second exam (SQE2) in the October 2022 cohort, meaning they will need to wait seven months until April 2023 to gain qualification as a solicitor.