New Zealand Law Society - Feedback sought: Access to student loans and allowances for Professional Legal Studies courses

Feedback sought: Access to student loans and allowances for Professional Legal Studies courses

The recent re-classification of training providers by the Government means the Professional Legal Studies course (known as Profs) will need to be developed as a Qualification on the NZ Qualifications and Credits Framework, in order to ensure continued access to student support (loan/allowances) beyond 2024.

The New Zealand Council of Legal Education, as the statutory regulator of pre-admission legal training, has been working with the relevant government education agencies since the start of 2023 to progress this, in order to preserve the ability of students to access loans for the PLSC beyond 2024. As required by the relevant legislation, this will be progressed with the assistance and endorsement of a Workforce Development Council (WDC), Ringa Hora, being the relevant WDC for the legal profession. While WDCs were recently established as part of the Government’s vocational education reforms, Ringa Hora’s staff are experienced in working with NZQA and the sector.

The Council is working with Ringa Hora, and with both existing providers of the PLSC, to bring this about as smoothly and quickly as possible through the required New Zealand Qualifications Authority application process.  The aim is to have this approved by NZQA  and listed on the framework in sufficient time beyond the end of 2024. This is assisted by the  PLSC not being a new course being developed, but  being an existing a well-established course governed by the NZCLE Regulations and successfully delivered by the College of Law and Institute of Professional Legal Studies. The process through Ringa Hora involves taking that course and seeking approval for it to be listed as a ‘Qualification’ for the purposes of the New Zealand Qualifications and Credit Framework.

Ringa Hora has commenced the work and a meeting has already been held between them, the Council and the providers. The next phase, to take place over the next few weeks, will be for a working group to finalise a draft of the application to NZQA. Once finalised, this will be available and there will be opportunities for stakeholder feedback among the legal profession and other interested stakeholders. Expressions of interest to be involved in giving feedback on that document can be sent to, but further information will be available through on the Ringa Hora and New Zealand Council of Legal Education websites as the process progresses.