SRA dismisses call to disclose LPC provider pass rates

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Junior Lawyers Division’s plea comes after stats show law school success scores vary from 29% to 100%

The regulator has dismissed calls by the Junior Lawyers Division (JLD) to disclose Legal Practice Course (LPC) provider pass rates after finding huge discrepancies in performance.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority’s (SRA) report for the academic year to 31 August 2018 revealed the proportion of students who passed the year-long vocational course ranged from 29% to 100% at 25 postgraduate law schools. The names of the training providers were anonymised.

The SRA stated the reasons for such disparity were “unclear” but cited the size of cohorts: from a group of 16 students to several thousands spread across different locations, academic ability and variable teaching quality as factors influencing success scores.

Julie Brannan, SRA education and training chief, explained why the report data is anonymised:

“It is not appropriate to publish the names of institutions. Institutions set and mark their own assessments so publishing names alongside specific data could create pressures on providers which might impact standards.”

She added that this will no longer be the case under the Solicitors Qualification Exam (SQE), where all candidates will sit the same centrally marked assessments.

The 2019 Legal Cheek LPC Most List

Charlotte Parkinson, chair of the JLD, urged the SRA to release the data “before the next intake of students part with their money”. She said:

“The JLD understands that the huge variance in results for the LPC was just one of the reasons the SRA wanted to introduce a centralised qualifying assessment. Accordingly, it is worrying that the SRA seem to be unable to reveal the pass rates for individual organisations.

The cost of the LPC is significant, around £16,690 in central London in 2020, and many students will take a commercial loan to fund the course. Whilst we understand the regulator does not regulate LPC providers, they have a responsibility to ensure that students are able to make an informed choice on an LPC provider, before handing over such a large amount of money for a course that is, currently, a mandatory step to becoming a qualified solicitor.”

The LPC is set to be replaced by the Solicitors Qualification Exam (SQE) from autumn 2021.

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The lack of transparency is appalling – some providers are clearly failing to properly teach students or happily taking on students that will not pass for their money. I was expecting more from the SRA quite frankly.



So the worst performers are small unis, who take on less-than-stellar students.


Follow the money

Which small unis do you mean? This regards LPC providers, the market of which is overwhelmingly controlled by two institutions, ULaw and BPP. Those two are the true elephant in the room, and rumours have it their regional campuses are by far the worst of the lot.

It’s in BPP and ULaw’s best interests to keep these statistics under wraps and the SRA is sadly abetting this behaviour.



They are the two big boys, which means they don’t have a small intake.

There are numerous small unis which provide the LPC:



You’re right, but I think you’re missing the fact that they have many small campus sites all across England, many of which are notorious to be underperforming. Overall ULaw and BPP are obviously the two biggest players, but their London operations are miles different to the poxy schools they’ve set up in the regions.


SRA is wank

It is in the public interest to publish the data.

Pass rates being publicised should be compared to food health hygiene ratings, you wouldn’t eat somewhere that achieved 1 star and you wouldn’t enrol somewhere with a 29% pass rate.

The current system is exploiting those who don’t have TCs lined up.



Whilst I agree with your last sentence, students who sign up for the LPC without a TC lined up are exploiting themselves. You’d have to seriously burrow your head in the sand to do the LPC without a TC and not realise how big (and unadvised) a risk it is.



Not everyone works for firms who can afford to pay for the LPC. So, for some people hoping to work for small regional firms (in their home town or where they went to uni), doing the LPC on their own dime might be sensible in that it is the only option.

If you manage to get it under an LLM, you could get the postgrad loan to cover it. Less than ideal, but it’s still better than borrowing £10,000-£15,000 off your parents.



There’s still a difference between self-funding the LPC with no concrete job waiting on the end for you and self-funding the LPC with a firm job offer that admittedly doesn’t include LPC fees.



Another alternative is to just not work for those firms. Look to other industries. High street law firms aren’t that great a deal that you should be willing to pile on more debt to *maybe* get employed by one.

Either aim for firms that will pay for you or think of another profession. Leave the high street to the rich or risk-taking people or the people who bail out of large firms.



Smaller firms may not pay for the LPC, but you can still get the TC lined up before enrolling. Only thing worse than paying for the LPC is paying for the LPC AND still not getting a TC (or ever having had a realistic chance of getting one).



A lot of smaller firms *cough* predominantly legal aid firms *cough* will not accept applications until after the lpc has been completed



…which is why they’re on an express train heading straight for the toilet



Appalling that SRA are trying to protect profiteering companies running poor quality courses which SRA have made mandatory for students to take.



“ publishing names alongside specific data could create pressures on providers which might impact standards”

This is very disturbing. So if you punish low pass rate the provider might inflate their pass rate? It is disturbing that these private equity firms have the discretion to do that. Isn’t the SRA supposed to ensure this doesn’t happen?


Truth needs to be told

To be fair smaller players will be suffering from the “put shit in, you get shit out” effect. Publishing their names does not mean that we would know that the supply of education from the lower end performers is poor, more likely it means if you end up going to them you are much more likely to be a the shit end of the intellect pyramid in the first place.



But wouldn’t students want to know about the calibre of students at an institution?

I did the bar course that was full of semi literate idiots.



The course has always been oversupplied with semi literate idiots who never had a hope in hell of making it. But the modern world’s inane “give everyone a chance even if they are not good enough” model means no-one can tell them they are pissing in the wind. When they fail to get pupillage or tenancy they read all the diversity and social mobility articles in Counsel, the Guardian etc and many find whatever group they can fit in with and blame discrimination for what happened, heaven forbid that they accept they were never good enough in the first place. We need to have better gatekeepers for vocational training but a heady mixture of lobbying from those with a financial stake in oversupply of courses and the social justice warriors mean things are getting worse not better.



In that case (and more so in relation to pupillage applications) chambers should give them a reason they were rejected, rather then let them come to their own conclusions using nothing but context and social mobility babble in the media. But no, they’re too lazy to do that.

People should just start making requests to chambers access their data under Article 15 of the GDPR. It sometimes throws up mark schemes, comments on your paper form and interview performance by the panel. Much more helpful than radio silence or the platitudinous bullshit some sets come out with in response to feedback requests.



All the more reason to have two piles, no notes and a stock response.

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