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Uni of Law ditches Birmingham part-time BPTC just six weeks before start date

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Exclusive: Students with part-time places told to head to London instead

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The University of Law is abandoning its Birmingham branch’s part-time Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) — just six weeks before students were scheduled to take their classroom seats, and only three years after its launch.

Students with part-time places at ULaw’s Brum outpost received a letter yesterday offering a £2,000 discount on both the full-time BPTC in Birmingham — which continues as normal — or the part-time option that remains in London.

Initially, the “one-off goodwill gesture” offered to students failed to consider the higher price of the London course, which at £18,500 costs an additional £4,000 in fees to the £14,500 Birmingham course. That would have left wannabe barristers based in Birmingham with an extra £2,000 to find and a relocation to contend with, plus all the associated living costs they’d be hit with in the capital.

Legal Cheek now understands that an improved offer has been made to those left out in the cold, with ULaw allowing students to transfer to its Bloomsbury branch at no additional cost.

Of the 48 places available, only a dozen students were enrolled on ULaw’s Brum part-time BPTC for the 2014-15 academic year. The Birmingham site opened in 2001 and six years later started offering what was then the Bar Vocational Course. The branch won approval to start a part-time BPTC from September 2011.

The part-time Brum course — which is still being advertised on ULaw’s website — is only one element of a major shake-up of the UK’s largest legal education provider. Earlier this summer, ULaw was sold for the second time in just three years, with 36-year-old business tycoon Aaron Etingen this time picking up the institution.

Since the entrepreneurial whizz-kid’s arrival, ULaw’s chief exec of only two years, John Latham, has moved on from the institution, along with chief financial officer Tim Boucher.

A spokesperson from ULaw told Legal Cheek:

We can confirm that unfortunately it has not been feasible to run our BPTC out of Birmingham this September and we appreciate this will be a disappointment for some students. We have offered a discretionary discount to any of those wishing to defer until next year and will be honouring the Birmingham course fees if they wish to transfer to London.

In other ULaw news, the London office of US firm Dechert has switched its future lawyers’ Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) and Legal Practice Course (LPC) training deals to rival BPP Law School.

A spokesperson from ULaw said:

We have enjoyed an excellent and longstanding relationship with Dechert and look forward to the opportunity to work with them again in the future. We pride ourselves on our first rate training and this is reflected in a number of exciting new business wins, including Trowers & Hamlins. We work with over 90 of the top 100 UK law firms and over half of the top global firms, many of whom send their trainees exclusively to The University of Law for their training.

9 Comments

Anonymous

What an utterly embarrassing shambles!

(4)(1)

Anonymous

When you run your Uni like an airport, this is what happens.

(13)(0)

Anonymous

ULaw just gets worse and worse, this is what happens when profits and not students are the priority of the management

(4)(0)

Anonymous

Quote: We work with over 90 of the top 100 UK law firms and over half of the top global firms, many of whom send their trainees exclusively to The University of Law for their training.

“We work with” – carefully selected marketing nonsense that means that if a firm sends one person to one CPD course they suddenly work with them

“Many of whom” – well of those 90 out the top 100 firms, very few of them now send their trainees to ULaw.

I appreciate that everyone likes to hype up their marketing but this really is bordering on misleading.

(5)(0)

Anonymous

This is just cruel. I’d imagine that most people would choose to do the GDL part-time so they can work and fund their way through the programme. So, not only do these students have to relocate AND pay much higher costs for rent, but they’re likely to need to give up their job as well? That, quite simply, blows.

But hey, at least there’s only 12 of them (…or at most 48…?).

(3)(0)

Anonymous

Sympathies to those affected. A contribution to their travel should be covered along with their fees limited to Brum rates.

(3)(1)

Anonymous

So they lost Dechert but plug the win of Trowers & Hamlins…….. HA!

(1)(0)

jurisdoctor

I don’t think that the UoL is entirely to blame here. As a commercial entity they need to do what is right for their books.

Now if you do want to point fingers look no further than the BSB/Bar Council. To increase the barrier of entry they created a monstrous course that costs a fortune to run and provides with little benefits.

If you want to test knowledge and be fair at the same time do a bar exam like they do in the U.S. or Australia and give everyone a chance. Then every provider or University can create and sell a bar exam preparation course at a fraction of the price.

OR Advocacy component/exam run by the inns and for the theoretical part a bar exam.

In 2017 this will probably change so the BPTC will be a thing of the past.

(10)(4)

Anonymous

That evil Bar Council, forcing profit making companies to run courses at a huge profit…

(2)(0)

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