College of Law plans Bristol invasion

The College of Law (CoL) has stunned the legal education market after announcing surprise plans to launch a new £1.2m Bristol base in 2010.

The new centre, which will serve the whole of the South West region, will be the college’s eighth branch in the UK and will follow the imminent launch of its Manchester operation, which is scheduled to welcome its first tranche of students in September.

CoL’s chief executive Nigel Savage told “Our Bristol centre is the last piece in a jigsaw to show that we are a truly national provider of Legal Practice Course (LPC) and Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) courses.”

The news comes as legal education providers across the country jostle for supremacy. Kaplan Law School, the newest entrant in the market, signed up its seventh LPC client, Penningtons, last month (June) and secured validation from the Bar Standards Board to run the Bar vocational Course from September 2010.

Meanwhile, BPP Holdings, the owner of CoL’s arch rival BPP Law School, has agreed to be taken over by US-based Apollo Global, a joint venture formed in 2007 between Apollo Group and private equity house The Carlyle Group for £305m. BPP has also extended its LPC client roster with the addition of international law firm Reed Smith.

Elsewhere, the Bristol Institute of Legal Practice (BILP) has teamed up with Central Law Training to launch a national part-time distance learning LPC. BILP, which is part of the University of West of England, is currently the only LPC provider in the city and is validated to offer the course to 400 students. CoL hopes to attract 190 LPC and GDL students in Bristol in 2010.

The college already has centres in London (Bloomsbury and Moorgate), Birmingham, Chester, Guildford, Manchester and York.