University of Law to look at Oxford expansion following LPC agreement

The University of Law (UoL) will look at establishing a base in Oxford following its agreement to take over the provision of Oxford Brookes University’s Legal Practice Course (LPC).

Students were outraged last week when informed of Oxford Brookes’ decision to stop teaching the LPC from this summer, citing “a steady decline in applications” that meant the LPC was “no longer tenable”.

Following talks yesterday, the two providers have agreed that UoL will deliver the course on the Oxford Brookes campus in 2013/14 – it has not been decided how long that agreement will continue.

Sarah Hutchinson Board Member for Business Development at UoL said “we made a rapid arrangement to ensure that students are not adversely affected. 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.”

While the arrangement is subject to approval by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and sufficient student demand, Hutchinson said that the parties were “cautiously optimistic” that approval would be both prompt and favourable.

In terms of student demand, Hutchinson said that provided there were 20 full-time students the course would run but that early indicators suggested there will be “more than sufficient demand”. The LPC course currently has around 70 full time students and 20 part time students.

The UoL will provide the second year of the part-time LPC to students who were previously studying with Oxford Brookes. It will also provide a full-time LPC to meet the expectations of Oxford Brookes’ LLB and GDL students. The full-time course will also be open to all other students wanting to study the LPC in Oxford.

Fees for the Oxford courses are yet to be finalised but it is believed that fees will be at the same level as UoL’s Birmingham branch. Current fees for 2012/13 at Oxford Brookes are full-time £10,250 and part-time £5,125 while fees at UoL Birmingham are full-time £10,880 and part-time £5,400.

Teaching of the LPC at Oxford will be led by UoL Guildford’s centre director Sheila Bramley and the course will be run as a satellite of the Guildford centre. Hutchinson said “there are very strong historic links between Oxford Brookes and Guildford both in terms of students and tutors. They know each other well so it made sense in order to achieve a smooth transition.”

A spokesperson for Oxford Brookes said: “We recognise the high level of law student concerns, and we want to enable our students to complete their law studies with a quality law school with the same level of excellent support as they currently enjoy. We will enable The University of Law to deliver the LPC on our campus and continue to provide our facilities to the students.”

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).