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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.