Student fee fears at University of Law takeover

The former Oxford Brookes-run Legal Practice Course (LPC) acquired by the University of Law will be substantially more expensive and exceed the maximum career development loan by more than £1,000, it has emerged.

Meetings held in the last two weeks between the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), Oxford Brookes University (OBU) and the rebranded University of Law (UoL) have agreed in principle the terms of the LPC takeover but LLB students within the Oxford Brookes law faculty are still in the dark.

Amy Evans, student representative for the law faculty, said: “The Students’ Union sent a letter to the Pro-Vice Chancellor today asking for there to be more certainty and I know the talks are still ongoing between the two providers but at the moment everything is very unclear and it’s causing even more stress for all of the students involved.”

Evans, who says that she will probably have to defer her LPC in order to raise the money to fund it, continued: “The University of Law is charging £11,260 and it is still unsure whether or not we will get 10 per cent off this as alumnis, but either way it is more than the maximum career development loan.”

OBU’s LPC was £10,660 and current OBU students were guaranteed a ten per cent reduction via the alumni discount scheme, meaning a the maximum career development loan of £10,000 would have covered the cost of the course, in a move designed to attract undergraduates to the course.

A meeting held last week between the SRA, OBU and UoL agreed that students would register both with OBU and UoL.

Sarah Hutchinson, board member for business development at UoL, said: “In terms of student experience, they will register with the university (UoL). They will get our LPC delivered by our tutors and access to our centres and also Oxford Brookes’ centres. To be honest, the most important thing is the access to our virtual learning environment, that’s the same with any provider – a lot is provided via the internet.

“In addition, we will provide on campus resources as needed. An example would be if students needed extra admin support or assessments or face-to-face careers advice as they would have at any centre.”

Students will also enroll as OBU students for access to the library, the student union and careers services.

Hutchinson added: “I think the students will get an enhanced experience. We had a meeting with existing part-time LPC students and GDL students and after Easter we will meet current LLB students.”

“All students are in the same boat with the LPC and we do offer an installment scheme on the part-time course. My sympathies go out to all these students, they had expectations and they are finding the situation stressful. But we have to be fair to our students at other centres, we can’t treat people differently.”

The UoL declined to comment on whether ex-LLB students would still get a 10 per cent discount. A spokesperson said: “That’s a matter for Oxford Brookes and their students and we wouldn’t comment on that.”

Any deal between Oxford Brookes and the UoL over the LPC could face difficulties, Dean of BPP Law School Peter Crisp has said (13 March 2013).