Students outraged as Anglia Ruskin suspends Chelmsford LPC

Anglia Ruskin has suspended its Legal Practice Course (LPC) at its Chelmsford campus, making it the second university to stop teaching the course within as many months.

It is understood that the university informed students of its decision on 31 March, leaving many reeling as it is one of the only LPC providers in the region. Students at the Essex campus have been informed that they can travel to its Cambridge base, around 50 miles away.

Current LLB students were informed by email on 31 March that the course was no longer running but were not formally given a reason as to why.

A final-year LLB student said: “We have heard on the grapevine that it is due to low student numbers.

“I know a lot of [final-year LLB] students left off applying [for the Anglia Ruskin LPC] until the Easter holidays because of exams and deadlines. We were told by lecturers that it was okay to do this. But we then received an email telling us that they had decided to stop the course.

“If they had consulted with us we would have applied earlier.”

They added: “There are first-year LLB students saying that they may as well drop out now, as they will not be able to afford to complete the LPC elsewhere.”

The university has confirmed that the suspension of the course was due to low student enrolment numbers.

The LPC at Anglia Ruskin cost £8,755 in 2013/14. The closest option to the Chelmsford campus is now the University of Hertfordshire, which has set its fees at £10,500 for 2014/15.

Since receiving the email notifying them of the 2014/15 cancellation, students have contacted the student union and lecturers but have been told that their only option is to attend the Cambridge centre.

“We are mostly local or mature students,” the source added. “None of us come from particularly well off backgrounds. The fees here are cheaper and we can live at home without paying much for travel.”

The Anglia Ruskin LPC has no set application deadline but is filled on a first come, first served basis. The decision to cancel the course so late in the academic year has worried many students, who fear that, if they do manage to raise the funds to study elsewhere, it may be too late to secure an LPC place.

Other causes for concern include the fact that there are no live lectures at the Cambridge campus, meaning that students would have to travel to the city for workshops but would have to watch lectures online at home. 

“We’re also worried that any employability initiatives will be with local firms,” said the student. “At the Chelmsford campus they would have been with firms local to us that we wanted to work for.”

Head of Anglia Law School Penny English said: “Following a review of the range of legal courses offered by Anglia Ruskin, the LPC will continue to be run on the Cambridge campus and we are offering Chelmsford applicants the opportunity to transfer to Cambridge ahead of this autumn.

“It should be stressed that the LPC course is not closing in Chelmsford, it is only suspended for 2014-15.  The course will resume provided there is sufficient demand.  After the decision was taken to suspend the course, all of those who had applied to study the LPC in Chelmsford were written to.”

Anglia Ruskin is not the first institution to decide to close its LPC in recent months. In February, Plymouth decided to drop the course (27 February 2014), citing a fall in student enrolments as the rationale for its decision, while last May saw the National College of Legal Training cancel both the Gradate Diploma in Law and LPC for the same reason (24 May 2013).