LPC market shrinks by 20 per cent

Student numbers on the Legal Practice Course (LPC) have plummeted this year despite both the College of Law (CoL) and BPP Law School expanding their reach.

The number of students enrolling on the full-time LPC dropped by 20 per cent from 7,631 to 6,067, according to the LPC Central Applications Board.

Bristol Institute of Legal Practice (BILP) at the University of West of England, one of just three providers to disclose some of its figures, saw 271 registrations this year in total across its two modes of delivery in Bristol. But BILP’s numbers on the full-time course nosedived by 21 per cent from 190 to 150 students.

Head of BILP Steve Dinning stressed that the news comes on the back of a successful 2010-11 recruitment campaign for BILP in Bristol and in the national market.

“Despite the arrival of both CoL and BPP in Bristol this September BILP has retained its position as the largest LPC provider in the region by some margin,” he added.

“In addition, we have expanded our national, LPC part-time offering in collaboration with Central Law Training and now have three centres, including Manchester Metropolitan University, offering our LPC through our associate college, NCLT.” said Dinning.

Elsewhere, Northumbria Law School reported a loss of around 27 per cent with a fall from 109 students enrolled on its full-time course in 2009-10 to just 79 for 2010-11.

BPP, Kaplan Law School and the City Law School all declined to disclose their figures, but dean of BPP Peter Crisp said: “A decline in the market for LPC places is exactly what one would expect at this stage of the economic cycle. In terms of recruitment, the legal profession has retrenched and this is now being reflected in enrolments on the LPC.”

Nottingham Law School also turned down the opportunity to comment.

Crisp went on to defend BPP’s expansion plans at a time when demand for LPC places has dropped significantly. He said: “When BPP became a University College in July 2010, we announced our plans to expand our regional centres across the UK. The opening of our three new law schools in Cambridge, Liverpool and Newcastle is part of that strategy, and we are not increasing the number of validated places; we are simply providing a wider outreach in terms of places to study.”

Meanwhile, the CoL reported a drop of seven per cent on its full-time course across its nine centres from 3,421 to 3,195. CoL chief Nigel Savage said: “It’s a sign of the market correcting itself and the work of market forces. We’re down less than everyone else as we’ve been around for many years and therefore people trust our brand.”

The drop in LPC students will be welcomed by many who want to see the gap between law students and training contract places close.