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University of Hertfordshire suspends its LPC over concerns it may not be ‘valid in 2018’

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Law school will offer restructured LLB incorporating new SRA proposals

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The University of Hertfordshire has suspended its Legal Practice Course (LPC) over concerns that it may not be “valid in 2018”.

A spokesperson for the university confirmed that the action was in direct response to proposed changes to the solicitor qualification route, backed by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

If given the green light, the centralised assessment, dubbed the ‘super-exam’, will effectively combine the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) and the LPC. The exam, which would have to be undertaken by all those wishing to qualify as a solicitor, would controversially also be open to those who have not attended university.

At the risk of LLB students being examined twice on core subjects, the SRA indicated last month that the exam could be incorporated into a standard undergraduate law degree, rendering the LPC surplus to requirements.

Despite just being proposals at this stage, the law school’s management has opted to suspend its LPC offering for 2016/17 academic year, over fears the course will be redundant as of 2018.

Confident that the SRA proposals will get the go-ahead, a spokesperson for the University of Hertfordshire told Lawyer2B (registration required):

We don’t feel we can charge £12,000 for a course that might not be valid in 2018.

The university will offer a “revalidated” LLB that will embrace SRA led proposals and prepare students for the super-exam, instead. With details still thin on the ground, the university confirmed the repackaged law degree will adopt “multiple professional body requirements”.

More sceptical readers might argue that the university — that has approval for 80 LPC students according to the SRA’s website — is using the regulator-backed proposals as an excuse to exit a highly competitive LPC market. Last summer, Kaplan Law School revealed it was to close at the end of 2016, ditching its LPC and GDL courses.

With the more traditional law schools unlikely to combine the SRA super-exam proposals into their LLBs, the move would suggest that Hertfordshire University is repositioning itself for when the route qualification changes.

A spokesperson for Hertfordshire Law School told Legal Cheek:

The SRA’s response to the Legal Education and Training Review offers us a unique opportunity to address the ongoing rumblings of dissatisfaction with legal education and training processes. It is an opportunity for every law school to reflect on the future shape and form that law degrees, as well as legal education and training in a broader sense.