Expanded enrolment, two months in
The controversial decision to increase the Queen’s Law class size has now been implemented. Enrolment for the Class of 2017 was increased to 200 students, up from the 165 target of previous years.
Dean Bill Flanagan insists that this expansion was necessary for the Faculty to continue to develop and thrive.
“I felt this was an opportunity we could not miss,” Flanagan said. “It’s pretty wonderful what you can do when you have some resources.”
The Faculty proceeded with the plan despite significant opposition from students. The Queen’s Law Students’ Society (LSS) conducted an extensive consultation process of the proposal and found that a majority of students were opposed to the expansion plan.
As current LSS President Sean Coughlin notes, “The LSS held an opinion poll in the 2013-14 academic year regarding the expanded enrolment plan proposed by the Administration. Students at the time were generally opposed to the proposed plan. Of those that voted, 69 per cent were against the expansion, 22 per cent were for the expansion, and nine per cent were undecided.”
Student concerns included a loss of community feel, reduced access to services, a decline in the quality of education, and increased competition for limited articling positions. The minority of students who supported the expansion felt that a possibly enhanced reputation, expanded services, and access to legal education justified the decision.
As a result of the opposition from students, the LSS lobbied against the expansion plan. In spite of this effort, the plan was approved by Faculty Board and has now been implemented by the Faculty. (Editor’s Note: Only the total Faculty Board vote was released. Votes of individual members, including student representatives, are not made public.)
Dean Flanagan sees the enrolment expansion as essential to providing the school with the funding it needs to compete with Osgoode and UofT.
Without the enrolment expansion, “we were cutting ourselves off at the knees, twice. We missed our opportunity to raise tuition during the deregulation and we’re doubly disadvantaging ourselves by maintaining such a small enrolment,” Flanagan argued.
He highlighted the additional clinical offerings, faculty, and student support services the Faculty is able to offer.
“So [with] the increased revenue, we can plow all of that into faculty and into programs,” Flanagan said.
In addition to the benefits from increased revenue, the administration maintains that many of the fears of law students opposing the plan have not materialized.
“We are also delighted that our first-year Law ‘17 J.D. class is just as academically strong and talented as first-year J.D. students registered in previous years,” Assistant Dean of Students Jane Emrich said.
The Law ’17 class have slightly higher undergraduate GPAs and a median LSAT score one point lower than the Law ’16 class.
The administration also feels that the Queen’s Law community is just as vibrant as ever. “The Orientation Committee has done an excellent job of providing a full range of activities and events to cater to the expanded class. With the launch of the new QLAW Portal, we have a better platform to display information for Orientation as well. My sense is that our new first-year Law ‘17 class is settling in well,” Emrich said.
Coughlin, while acknowledging the immediate benefits additional resources have been able to bring, wants to wait and see. “With the expansion now in its initial year, it is still too early to determine what the effects have been on the student experience at Queen’s Law.”
Michael Scott is a News Editor for Juris Diction. He is currently in his second year of the MPA/JD program.
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