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Kaplan Law School to close

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Third largest player in England and Wales legal education market takes a nosedive after eight years in business

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Kaplan Law School is to shut from the end of next year, officials have confirmed.

The institution — which was founded in 2007 and ditched its Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) last year — will leave the legal education market completely when its current joint venture with Nottingham University Law School expires at the end of 2016.

That deal has involved Kaplan running Nottingham’s Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) and Legal Practice Course (LPC) in London. The law school triggered a bout of speculation in spring of last year when it announced it was moving from London’s south bank to Borough near London Bridge and gave the bullet to its BPTC last September.

As of 2014 there were 275 students doing the Kaplan LPC and 112 on the GDL. Fees for the Kaplan-Nottingham GDL are currently £9,950 LPC, while its LPC/LLM fee is £14,250.

That made Kaplan’s LPC about £550 cheaper than that of the University of Law and BPP Law School in the capital. Its GDL fees were around £340 cheaper than its two leading rivals.

The shock announcement came only a day after Kaplan had trumpeted another joint venture. Yesterday it unveiled a deal with Pearson VUE to deliver the first part of the qualified lawyers transfer scheme exam globally.

Kaplan is the SRA’s sole authorised provider that scheme’s assessments, which provide a route for foreign lawyers and barristers to become solicitors of England and Wales.

In a statement this morning, the Kaplan pointed a not-so-subtle finger at the solicitors’ profession regulator for triggering its decision to bail out of the legal education market. It said the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s (SRA) “Training for Tomorrow programme has opened up the prospect of exciting new possibilities for the route to qualification as a solicitor of England and Wales.”

The statement continued:

Kaplan has therefore taken the view that it will not invest in a traditional LPC and GDL to replace the existing one but rather will concentrate its resources on developing innovative new products that draw on the Training for Tomorrow framework.

A spokeswoman went on to say that current Kaplan GDL and LPC students “will continue to receive the high quality tuition and strong focus on individual student outcomes that made it a leader in the market”.

Kaplan officials confirmed that the institution was continuing with its other courses, which include accountancy, finance and management. But the spokeswoman would not comment on how many Kaplan law school staff faced redundancy.

Responding to the announcement, Nottingham Law School issued a statement saying:

Kaplan Law School’s contract to run Nottingham Law School’s GDL and LPC in London is coming to an end in 2016. This will not affect current students who are due to complete their studies before September 2016. Nottingham Law School will continue to run its vibrant LPC and GDL portfolios in Nottingham, which continue to recruit well from both domestic and international markets.

Previously:

Kaplan to ditch its Bar Professional Training Course [Legal Cheek]

Kaplan Law School to quit pricey Thames-side campus [Legal Cheek]