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The University of Law has been sold for the second time in three years

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Private equity-owned outfit changes hands again

Ulaw-bloomsbury-3

The University of Law is understood to have been sold today to one of the world’s biggest private education conglomerates only three years after the former charity was Hoovered up by a London private equity house.

Legal Cheek can reveal that Europe’s biggest law school is now in the hands of Global University Systems (GUS). It is understood that university staff were informed of the sale this afternoon.

The buyer — which is understood to have instructed England-based global franchise law firm Eversheds — has a low profile, but owns at least nine institutions across the globe. On its books are the London School of Business and Finance (LSBF) and the London College of Contemporary Arts as well as the University of Canada West.

It is not known how much current owners — Montagu Private Equity — will trouser from the deal, but observers were surprised last night that it was ditching the university now. It is understood that current president and chief executive John Latham will continue in his position.

Montagu bought the then College of Law in 2012 for £200 million. Since then, the government gave the green light to an upgraded university status. However, the institution has struggled commercially.

At the end of 2013, it lost the deal for bulk provision of the Legal Practice Course (LPC) for magic circle law firm Allen & Overy. Nine months later, global rival Clifford Chance ditched the university by following A&O to arch-competitors BPP Law School. But fellow magic circle firm Linklaters recently renewed its LPC deal with the university.

When Montagu bought the institution, it agreed to a deal hiving off £200m for the creation of a charitable fund, which became the Legal Education Foundation.

The GUS website provides scant information about the business, saying simply that it “partners with internationally-minded, innovative and forward thinking educational institutions”.

As of Monday evening, neither Eversheds nor the University of Law had responded to Legal Cheek‘s requests for comment (although this morning the University of Law got in touch and confirmed that it was declining to comment at this stage). The GUS’s UK address is at Tower Hill on the fringes of the City of London, while its headquarters is listed as being in Schiphol in The Netherlands.

GUS chief executive Aaron (sometimes known as Arkady) Etingen founded the London School of Business and Finance (LSBF) about 11 years ago. According the GUS website, the institution has some 1,500 staff, “ensuring that innovation, creativity and a strong commitment to high standards are embedded across the entire group”.

The GUS site says the business is rooted in the finance and banking sectors, claiming it has transformed form origins as “a small business school with four students to a global organisation with more than 40,000 students and alumni from 180 countries and growing presence worldwide”.

It claims that Etigen’s “leadership is one of the key reasons behind the success of Global University Systems”.

However, a year ago, The Guardian newspaper reported that more than 20 lecturers at the LSBF were in rebellion. According to the paper, they claimed the institution was “chaotically organised, lack[ed] basic teaching resources and maintain[ed] disruptive students on its books to keep the income they generate flowing in”.

Meanwhile, another GUS-owned institution, St Patrick’s, the UK’s largest private college, was suspended from the student loans system in February amid concerns about, amongst other things, high dropout rates. It has since been readmitted.

Commenting on speculation that GUS had scooped up ULaw, one legal education commentator suggested questions would be asked of the UK government’s new minister for higher education, Jo Johnson, who is also the brother of London mayor and newly-elected MP, Boris.

35 Comments

bar-steward

It’s a shoddy establishment overall so one should avoid it if St all possible IMHO.

(16)(4)

Not Amused

Because that is exactly how charities should be.

My local soup kitchen has instructed Addleshaws on it’s Initial Public Offering. Rumour, and these are only rumours, is that my daughter’s Friday Hot Dog sale group are in talks with venture capitalists. I myself have taken a hedged position on my parish church’s tom boller.

What the are we (us) doing? When exactly between 1997 and now did we decide that this was a good thing? And may I, oh so politely, oh so charmingly, and with such a terribly RP voice, ask – what the fuck? What the fuck are we doing? This is not party political. This is anti-git.

The answer to this is “no”. And BPP? Yeah, you are not one jot better.

(14)(3)

Anonymous

Tom Boller? Good chap I hear. Gives up his time to run NA’s parish tombola.

(3)(0)

Ollie Trumpington

Maybe lay off the caffeine a little, have a horlicks and get a good night’s sleep old boy – you deserve it…..

(6)(1)

Legal Weak

Why isn’t Not Amused on TV?

(5)(0)

dave

I’m pleased to hear he has progeny – someone to carry on the family business of curmudgeonly-ness.

(0)(0)

Denning's throbbing song

Hahah I knew it – the private equity house did not disappoint and flogged its asset just as expected. Good luck to all the poor sods who jumped the bait and went to study at this cesspit, it’ll only go downhill from here.

After all, one only has to look at the new company’s portfolio of other ‘education’ institutions, LSBF is known to be essentially a student-visa mill, ULaw will be no different. I’m sure Emperor Savage will make a tidy profit from it all, the swine.

(23)(0)

Anonymous

Savage is long gone.

(0)(3)

Gagarin's boot

His underlings and sycophants still lurk in the establishment no doubt.

(5)(0)

Inquisitor

Then where best to study GDL/LPC?

(2)(7)

Anonymous

Do some research. There are loads of other unis that do the Lpc and gdl. University of law was never the best, though it did have the best marketing!

(3)(2)

Mayfairman

ULaw was certainly the best when it was the College of Law. It is still one of the best, unless you like the US style of BPP or Kaplan. City Law School is another good choice.

(1)(2)

Disheveled Trainee

Please define what do you mean by the “US style of BPP or Kaplan”? I’m (unfortunately) a graduate of the BPP GDL and LPC and there is absolutely nothing, by any span of imagination, ‘US’ about that institution.

Unless you consider severe lack of organisation, turd-strewn gents toilets and their body odour-reeking, pitiful library as something American, that is.

(4)(0)

Gagarin's boot

Don’t do the GDL/LPC, period. Or at least unless you get actual funding from a TC provider. The misery of debt is painfully real, but the guarantee of a job at the end of the two year slog is fleeting at best. You’ve been warned.

(13)(0)

Anonymous

Sold to the latest bunch of money grabbing capitalists, seeking to plunder the accounts of ambitious young adults and their parents for years to come.

Selling meaningless qualifications for over inflated prices, selling unobtainable dreams to desperate people.

(13)(2)

Anonymous

GUS was created allegedly to offshore finance to avoid tax. The name of LSBF was allegedly toxic in the student recruitment market, because of their failed relationship with over 7 Universities. It still remains under the ownership of the same family who own LSBF and their circle of friends.

They purchased other institute’s who were in failing states to allegedly legitimise their business.

University Canada West, a Private University established by a convicted fraudster, became a recent addition to the alleged degree mill company

LSBF allegedly utilised ex MP’s for hire to create marketing videos to attempt to establish legitimacy. Note the former JO’s are available through dinner and events speaker sites for paid appointments.

All the while allegedly failing to pay their education agents, and asking them to place a student in LSBF and keep the money to pay their owed fees.

The online wing of LSBF / GUS – interactive, allegedly is a degree mill. The premise should be tested to see how easy Wolverhamptons degree is to achieve with no actual work.

The list of alleged activities goes on…

(18)(3)

Anonymous

Investigation should be done into the purchase of failing private colleges over the last few years by LSBF in order to utilise the CAS (confirmation of acceptance for studies) to allegedly generate income. The colleges were subsequently abandoned when the licenses were revoked.

The most shocking thing about this allegedly abhorrent organisation, is the fact that tax payers have footed the bill for this through the government paying £6000 per student to LSBF and St. Patrick’s college for over 10,000 students. Colleges that allegedly paid people nationwide to stand outside job centres to advise people how they could study and get an additional financial stipend and not have to sign-on for two years by studying and avoiding the job centre.

The money has come from the tax payer to purchase the University of Law.

(5)(2)

Legal Weak

Hmm, proof I guess that private equity and educational establishments don’t mix well.
How can a business that in most cases has a 3 to 5 year exit plan as standard develop the right balance in a university between profit and academic excellence (with the latter not always providing a profit).
Now that this step has taken place the UoL will n doubt keep changing hands every few years, each time the new owners will seek to shave off some costs, perhaps leverage up the business with more debt.
It’s possible that the UoL could go bankrupt one day with a deadweight of debt around its neck.
Although, perhaps for law students who wish to join City firms to focus on private equity and M&A the up-close insight into UoL’s ownership may prove educational.

(5)(0)

Anonymous

UoL will not be changing hands again, it will used as a means to expand GUS’s (which is still LSBF) reach. UoL will expand its range of courses. They will achieve this by continuing their standard operating procedure. Retain the same staff that have been running lsbf for years, supplemented by university staff, who’s contacts they suck dry then fire, apparently.

GUS is run from the UK by the same people who are based in the formerly branded lsbf offices in tower hill.

(1)(0)

Legal Weak

For those who wish to read and weep a little more, then see this about Etingen family empire that is behind GUS and alleged tax dodging using a Dutch vehicle, even though the main revenue is via public loans to students.

https://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/news/private-college-goes-dutch-but-says-profits-are-taxed-in-uk/2012741.article

(0)(0)

Anonymous

The negativity in most people’s comments is hardly surprising. We fail to highlight the urgent need for innovative and modern institutions to revolutionise a slowly dying industry which has evidently failed to advance at the same pace as other sectors. IMHO I feel this is an opportunity for GUS to finlay legitimise its image and established itself as a long-lasting influencer in British education. We cannot escape the fact that despite numumrous ‘alledged’ (the word has been used far too often in above comments) crisis, the group must be doing something right!

(1)(10)

Anonymous

^ Judging by the spelling, a former GUS student!

(12)(0)

Denning's throbbing song

I know Finlay Legitimise too, he’s a good friend of Nicky Twotimes from the bar across the road.

(6)(0)

Anonymous

My diatribe with repeated allegations was “irony”, as was the style it was written in. If your connected with LSBF then your aware it’s completely true.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Considering the LPC may become a thing of the past by the next decade, if the SRAs current plans go ahead, it’s interesting but not overly surprising that it’s being sold off now.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Anon at 10.22 has hit the nail on the head. The LPC is a dying product with no more than a 5 year shelf life at best. Good luck to Montagu for flogging it now. Any potential ULaw student had better do their homework before signing up!

(8)(0)

Varty Azimov

Comment 9.59 ‘Anonymous’ clearly works for the dodgy outfit. You can’t really do a PR job on this cancerous organisation. The proof of the pudding is in the student comments online for anyone to see. It underscores the importance of due diligence when looking at potential employers and schools. Check the Internet before you sign.

(3)(0)

on the other hand...

Odd that Varty is so eloquent in this post yet writes in pigeon English on another thread…I smell a rat!

(0)(0)

Also Anonymous

Anonymous at 9:59 is unlikely to be an ex-student as an ex-student is unlikely to be defending this organisation. The most basic due diligence (Google searching or perhaps talking to the rapidly growing list of ex-employees) will give you all the information you need.

(3)(0)

Anonymous

Is he the ex student of a dodgy college?
If so will we have the alumni of UoL defending it as it progresses into the mire

(0)(0)

Dick and Bernie

Varty and also anonymous – you are correct but the unfortunate truth is that although the ‘allegedly’ tax-dodging-tax-stealing-Russian-Mafia-run LSBF/GUS is despised by the industry, vilified by its students and feared by it’s employees, and granted, should have been ground-zeroed by the authorities by now, there is other similar pond-life happy to do business with this greedy mob in their mutual pursuit of dirty money.

(4)(0)

LPC Student

We can all slate the University of Law and BPP until the cows come home but if you want a career as a solicitor – at least in commercial law – we have to study here. They are where the vast majority of law firms send their future trainees (with a few to Kaplan) and as displeasing as it is to study here, we have no choice but to endure 1 year of unorganised hell until full-time work kicks in.

Question: Do you think there will be an elitist divide – in 5-10 years – between those who qualified through a TC and those who did the paralegal route?

(4)(1)

Anonymous

I suspect there wont be a TC route in 10 years time. The change to a “period of recognised training” and the equivalent means qualification process, along with the SRA’s current reviews to potentially implement a NY Bar type qualification process seem to suggest that the traditional TC may only last another 5 years or so.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Bloody horrible place to work!

(3)(0)

anoncoward@hotmail.com

GUS/LSBF trying to fire many of its employees without paying compensation using poor performance as an excuse. What they don’t know is some of the employees will take them to the cleaners. Time the greedy mofia mob was taught a lesson.

(4)(0)

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