Law students and the legal education field have reacted to news that BPP Law School will offer its graduates a free law, business or accountancy course if they are unemployed six months after graduation.
Reaction was mixed with some referring to the offer as a cynical marketing move and others believing it to be a genuine aid to graduates seeking work.
Nigel Savage, chief executive of the University of Law, formerly the College of Law, labelled the initiative “a gimmick” and “cheap marketing”.
He said: “Of course it is a gimmick. It’s the sort of thing that their owners, the University of Phoenix do in America. And what partly worries me is what overseas students will view the UK higher education system as.
“Moving to a system of buy one, get one free? It diminishes the perception of UK higher education. It also diminishes the perception of the solicitor qualification. It is trivialising the LPC (legal practice course).”
Savage also called into question BPP’s motives in running the offer.
He said: “In a competitive market there is always a tendency to use extreme methods to shore up unsubscribed courses. They have unsubscribed courses.
“It’s like supermarkets, if you have too much of a commodity it is buy one, get one free and that is what is happening here.”
Former BPP student Katie Mellor, who completed her LPC last June and is now a legal adviser at Pannone, took a more positive view of the offer.
She said: “I think it’s a great move. It highlights confidence in your students … although you will have to set some foundations so people don’t abuse it.”
Higher education PR Vickie Chiu Tweeted: “#BPP to offer free qualifications to LPC grads without law jobs – Good PR; not sure if it’s 100% useful for graduates”.
Anita Gohil-Thorp, consultant and career management coach at Kinsella Ziegler, said that the reaction to candidates who had completed an additional course would vary between law firms.
She said: “The first thing that comes to mind is that some City law firms can be cynical. If graduates have done the free course it means they didn’t get a job and, if so, why not? It is the same issue NQs (newly-qualified solicitors) face when they are not kept on – why were they not retained?
“Other more entrepreneurial firms will see it as an advantage if it is a relevant course.”
Earlier today the private provider announced its decision to allow LLB, graduate diploma in law (GDL) and LPC students who are not successful in their search for a permanent legal role to undertake another qualification worth up to £16,500 for free.
Students have to be able to demonstrate that they have made a “reasonable” effort to secure legal employment, although no application quota has been set.
Dean and chief executive of BPP Law School Peter Crisp said that the offer was: “a way of demonstrating our commitment to enhancing the CVs of all of our students.”
He added: “What this does is offer a guarantee that if graduates do not have a suitable position six months after graduating they can return for more training and support, which I think is what we ought to be doing.”
Last month, Osborne Clarke switched its LPC to BPP from the University of Law (11 April 2013).