SRA backs down to refund student enrolment fees

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) will refund students left out of pocket because they enrolled before it made the decision to slash registration costs.

The SRA scrapped its £80 student enrolment fee and reduced its Legal Practice Course (LPC) payment from £120 to just £15 in June, due to the red tape initiative contained within the Legal Education and Training Review (LETR).

However, those students who enrolled before the announcement was made were told that there would be no refunds.

A spokesperson for the SRA explained that the organisation had tried to warn students that they would incur unnecessary fees if they choose to proceed with their registrations rather than wait until the Legal Services Board ratified the SRA’s proposal; however, a number of students were still able to access the portal without coming across the SRA’s message.

One student, who enrolled at the very end of November 2013 and who is due to begin the LPC at the Bloomsbury campus of the University of Law, said: “I don’t see why students in my position should be caught out by this change in fees. I am being disadvantaged because I was organised and applied early for my LPC.”

However, the SRA has now backed down and in a statement on its website, says that it will refund students who applied before the fee changes were made. Affected students do not need to apply to receive a refund.

The full SRA statement

We are aware that a number of students have applied to us for student enrolment during the period we were seeking approval to make changes to the Training Regulations. The changes were approved in June, effective from the 1 July 2014, and removed the need for student enrolment as a requirement to commence the Legal Practice Course.

We are writing to all students who applied to us before 12 February 2014 (the date we placed a notice on our website warning of the possible changes) who are intending to start the LPC in September to tell them that we will refund the fee. We will confirm their entitlement to a refund when we receive details of student enrolments from the LPC providers in September.

Students do not need to apply to us to receive a refund. We will not refund fees paid before the 1 July which relate to an assessment of a character and suitability issue. Unfortunately, the timing of the changes and the steps that we must take to obtain approval for the changes has resulted in a short period of uncertainty as to whether or not the fee would be required. We are however committed to repaying the fee to those students who are able to benefit from the changes we have made to the regulations.