Transformative early entry into Law supports people from a refugee background

Friday, 28 August 2020

As a driving force for equity in higher education, the University of Newcastle has launched Australia’s first scheme to offer people from a refugee background the opportunity to gain early entry to study Law.

student, Gabby, sitting at NUSpace
Law student, Gabby Hinchey

The Refugee Early Entry Scheme considers a person’s whole experience, including a range of measures beyond results at school or tertiary admission rank. Successful applicants are accepted into the Bachelor of Laws (Honours) Combined degree program before sitting their final Higher School Certificate (HSC) examinations, reducing the pressures associated with the transition to higher education.

Associate Professor with Newcastle Law School, Amy Maguire, said people from refugee backgrounds had a range of diverse experiences to bring to legal study and practice.

“There are many people in our communities from refugee and migrant backgrounds who will benefit from legal representation by people who share lived experiences and cultural knowledge,” Associate Professor Maguire said.

“Widening participation is a core value at the University of Newcastle and we want to support motivated and talented students, regardless of their background or circumstances,who might not otherwise have gained access to our programs.

“Our whole Law School is enriched by the increasing diversity of our student body, so our early entry schemes really increase success for all.”

The sector-leading scheme is the Law School’s second offering in this space, following the establishment of the Indigenous Early Entry Scheme, which has admitted 20 Indigenous students into Law since commencing in 2017. Indigenous students now comprise five per cent of the undergraduate Law cohort, and Newcastle Law School embraces its mission of educating the next generation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lawyers.

Gabby Hinchey, a proud Gamilaraay woman from Tamworth gained entry to Law via the Indigenous Early Entry Scheme and said it had been life changing.

“I’ve always had my sights set on studying at the University of Newcastle so it was such a weight off my shoulders and a transformational moment to be accepted through the Early Entry Scheme,” Gabby said.

“To people considering applying for the Scheme, my advice is to go for it."

Associate Professor Maguire said Newcastle Law School’s commitment to promoting fairness and overcoming injustice were core values of the University that are lived and breathed through the Law School – Australia’s leading clinical law school.

“Our integrated community legal practice, the University of Newcastle Legal Centre, provides pro bono legal advice to members of the community who might not otherwise have access to legal representation,” Associate Professor Maguire said.

“The Legal Centre has acted for refugee and migrant clients, and our staff and students contribute to advocacy for the rights of people claiming asylum in Australia, so this new entry option helps bring our work full circle.”

Newcastle Law School is inviting applications from eligible students currently preparing for their Higher School Certificate or enrolled in an enabling program at the University of Newcastle to apply for entry to the Bachelor of Laws (Honours) Combined.  This is a five-year, full-time program, in which students complete a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) alongside another degree program of their choice.

Applications for the Refugee Early Entry Scheme close 13 September. More information:

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The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.