University of Law steps away from Oxford LPC

The University of Law has decided not to continue teaching the Legal Practice Course (LPC) at Oxford Brookes, following its decision to take over the university’s collapsed LPC last year.

The for-profit university stepped in when Oxford Brookes announced that it was to discontinue its LPC, leaving part-time students in the lurch. Brookes blamed a fall in student numbers, which has been reflected around the country, for its decision.

Following talks between the two providers, it was agreed that ULaw would step in to teach the course for full-time and second-year part time LPC students during 2013/14 (12 March 2014).

The arrangement had no fixed term, although ULaw business development board member Sarah Hutchinson stated at the time: “The logical next step for both universities is to formulate a longer-term plan. We had no pre-existing plans to move in to Oxford but the decision of Oxford Brookes to pull out of this market means that we will evaluate this.” (13 March 2013).

Oxford Brookes has now confirmed that the current arrangement will not continue.

Newly-appointed law school head Mark O’Brien added: “I would like to record my thanks for the hard work of the Oxford Brookes and University of Law staff who have worked together on LPC delivery during this academic year.”

A University of Law spokesperson said: “No decision has yet been made by The University of Law on whether or not it will establish a long-term presence in Oxford in the future. We are continually evaluating a number of opportunities to deliver University of Law programmes in key locations.”

Oxford Brookes’ decision to cancel its course caused outrage among students at the time, with one group writing an open letter, hosted on Lawyer 2B (7 March 2013). They labelled the move “not only sad, but irresponsible” and accusing the law school of making the decision “without regard to the welfare of [part-time] students.”

One reader commented: “The quality of the new LPC provided by the UoL for Oxford Brookes students cannot be guaranteed. The entire exercise is half-baked, a last moment arrangement from the OB management to save their skin after thousands of students’ complaints and possible legal action. 

“The LPC course staff have been left out in the cold. The university’s behaviour has been simply appalling, inexplicable and saddening for all concerned.”

Since the closure of Oxford Brookes’ LPC, several smaller providers have also discontinued the course. Both Plymouth University (27 Feburary 2014) and the National College of Legal Training (24 May 2013) cancelled their courses, while Anglia Ruskin has suspended its LPC in Colchester, suggesting students commute to its Cambridge campus instead (10 April 2014).