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Australia’s PM thinks too many people study law

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull smiles upon his arrival at Japan's Prime Minister's official residence before meeting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo, Japan, January 18, 2018. Source: Reuters/Franck Robichon/Pool

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said that he thinks too many students study law, arguing that he thinks young people should choose “more useful” degrees to pursue their dreams.

A lawyer before entering politics, Turnbull holds a Bachelor of Arts and Law from the University of Sydney and attended Brasenose College at the University of Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar in law.

“I actively discourage kids from doing law unless they actually want to be lawyers,” Turnbull told Canberra radio station 2CC last week. “I did law because I wanted to be a lawyer and I practiced as a lawyer for a decade.”

“If you want to be a lawyer, you’ve got to do a law degree full stop, but a lot of kids do law as though it’s a sort of interesting background qualification and it’s not.”

Some 15,000 students graduate from law degrees in Australia every year, while there are less than 70,000 solicitor jobs in the whole country, reported the Financial Review.

Turnbull said that rather than law, students should be pursuing the liberal arts if they seek a generalist education.

“If you want to have a general humanities degree that is an intellectual endowment but isn’t particularly specific in a vocational sense, then you would be better off doing languages, history, literature, philosophy. Frankly you’d be better off doing economics,” he said.

Experts have warned that law degrees are the “new arts degree” in Australia, as increasing numbers of students have pursued the discipline to get an edge in a highly competitive jobs market.

Whether or not Turnbull is right to advise against choosing law, some noted that cuts to higher education worth more than AUD2 billion would make it harder to pursue less vocationally oriented courses like history or literature.

Under the government’s changes, almost 10,000 student places have been left unfunded.

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