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A group of anonymous BPP students have published an open letter complaining about LPC lockdown ‘failures’

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‘All concerns raised by students are taken seriously and dealt with using the processes stated in our regulations,’ says law school in response

The BPP LPC students’ open letter

A group of students on the Legal Practice Course (LPC) at BPP University Law School have written anonymously to the university’s vice-chancellor complaining about what they term “persistent failures” with the quality of teaching and assessment during the lockdown period.

In an open letter to Professor Tim Stewart, the students outline a wide range of areas where they are dissatisfied with BPP’s handling of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

These include class sizes, IT problems and lack of hard copy course materials, the latter being an issue Legal Cheek reported on last week.

“Overall, BPP University’s response to lockdown and coronavirus has only served to create an environment of mistrust and anxiety for students, severely degrade the quality of teaching and assessment, and push as many costs of adjusting to lockdown onto students,” says the letter, which already has received coverage in both The Law Society Gazette and The Lawyer.

So far the letter has received 62 anonymous signatures. Approximately 3,000 students study the LPC full and part-time each year across BPP centres nationally. This means around 2% of BPP LPC students had signed the letter at the time this story was published.

The 2020 Legal Cheek LPC Most List

Legal Cheek understands that the group is engaging with senior members from the university and that a formal complaints procedure is due to commence.

A spokesperson for BPP said: “We cannot comment on individual complaints but confirm that all concerns raised by students are taken seriously and dealt with using the processes stated in our regulations. We understand and are sympathetic to students impacted by the disruption caused by the unprecedented nature of COVID-19.”

They continued:

“Whilst we have taken many steps to provide opportunities for students to continue to progress, if at all possible, our number one priority has been ensuring the safety of students and colleagues.”

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62 Comments

A concerned student

No surprise that Legal Cheek sides with the one’s who pay them.

(79)(1)

Lorix

My thoughts exactly

(3)(0)

Be better Legal Cheek, aren't you supposed to help students?

Any other BPP students interested in taking part please email us
bppresponse@gmail.com

(11)(0)

ULaw Student

The drafting of that letter is abominable, BPP’s attention should clearly focus on lock down drafting seminars.

(22)(23)

Tony

You have open book exams at the UofLaw, can’t really have an input when the BPP LPC is way more intense and demanding

(32)(9)

What an imbecile

You worked multiple times harder to get the same grade and exact same qualification at the end of the day… congrats

(47)(2)

BPP Student

Except the qualification counts for more if certain firms only draw from BPP….

(7)(16)

Recruiter

Except firms recruit students from anywhere, including ULaw. Sending their future trainees to BPP is only really a reflection of the fees BPP charge firms to draw them in

T

Not to mention mistakes in The actual exam papers…

(24)(0)

Emily C

Could you expand what you mean by this?

(5)(0)

BPP LPC Student

There were mistakes in the actual drafting of the exam questions.

(5)(1)

Ellie

What kind of mistakes? I am starting the LPC in a couple of months so this has really worried me

(7)(5)

Ssshhhhh

Where they put something purporting to be correct but wasn’t (accidentally). Ya know, the mistake kind.

(5)(2)

Amanda B

Since Legal Cheek doesn’t want to go into full depth in the article regarding the matter… would anyone who has already done the LPC explain what exactly is wrong with the course and teaching and the failures?

I’m starting the LPC in September amongst many other students and it would be very helpful to know what exactly we are getting ourselves into and how to avoid/get around the issues.

Thanks

(32)(0)

Duh

Or just read the letter linked to in the piece Amanda?

(5)(23)

Andrew

Obviously that was the first point of call. But the letter doesn’t go into much besides from the obvious

(6)(0)

Amanda

I thought so too

(2)(0)

Amanda needs to be more practical

Excellent suggestion above. It is indeed the Legal Practice Course, so it would aid you to be as practical as possible by reading the letter, practically speaking.

(9)(26)

BPP LPC Student

Tbh, most of the failures were gradually ironed out during the exam season. However, this was a problem in itself because it meant that students who began exams earlier in May (like myself) were the guinea pigs for the students who started exams later in June. The failures being:

– the exam platform crashing and logging students out of their exams. I was one of the students who experienced this, leaving me unable to finish one of my exams. I have never felt such anxiety in my life, especially as a sponsored student knowing I have to attain a minimum commendation for my firm. BPPs lame response at a no detriment was: a) if a student has failed the exam during the period they will be able to resit as first attempt and b) if the technical difficulty did not result in a failure the student could apply to resit the exam again as first attempt. In any case, a bit annoying to have to revise a whole entire module again considering the crashing was not the students fault. Ulaw’s no detriment was that exams taken during lockdown could not drag down grades, BPP made no such guarantee meaning that a crap result from a exam taken online could drag down the grade of a student who was currently on a distinction following the CPAs which we did in person before lockdown.

It’s worth noting that when BPP got to a point where the exam shut downs on Proctorio were too common place to deny, changed the exam platform. This new platform worked much more smoothly, but again not fair to the earlier ‘guinea pigs’ is it?

– Not sending hard copy materials to students who didn’t collect them before lockdown (ULaw was able to do so in contrast). This literally meant that a vast amount of students sat the exam with NO PERMITTED MATERIALS.

– The main failure(s) however were a complete lack of accountability, delays in communicating with student and blatant gaslighting of student concerns which just caused an unbelievable amount of anxiety. Finding out that we would not be sitting our Solicitors Accounts/ PCR exams 9pm the day before.

(39)(1)

Lpc Bpp atudent

Studied the gdl and a current lpc student at Bpp.

For the people commenting and asking re Ulaw or Bpp.
Bpp are expecting students to sit exams without our permitted materials. If people can not print them off, you can’t have them as most exams are proctored meaning you can only use one screen. If you’re doing electives, you can use a screen. However this is assuming people have spare laptops? Some of these materials are hundreds of pages long. It is important to mention here that we PAY for our materials as part of the course cost. Bpp told us the printing company they used was closed and this is why we couldn’t get them- a call to the company proved this false.

Bpp also in the last few years got rid of student services- can’t get an answer to anything
-Bpp refused to create any leeway for students self funding who lost their job due to corona. Bpp actually delayed results coming out so that If students hadn’t paid they couldn’t access their results. This resulted people not knowing if they had resits.

Bpp’s exam system failed in our May exams meaning I and many others finish our exams 4 months later than expected due to their technical error. I got 45 mins time taken off my exam. It is not fair we have to revise it again due to bpp’s fault.

Bpp are making it very hard for us to succeed- it seems unfair that my lpc is going to be my worst grade on my academic record when it should be significantly easier to do well.

You can’t sit law exams without statute books. Teachers would get annoyed if we forgot one for the lesson and now we’re expected to do exams without them haha.

Bpp are prioritising profits above anything else.
I would not suggest going here for the lpc to anyone- we are not out of the dark with Covid and you could end up in the same position we are in in November.

(27)(1)

Jay

Is there any way to prepare fore the LPC? Maybe it could be down to lack of preparation or not working smart enough. I’ve seen sooo many people on LinkedIn getting distinctions left right and centre so maybe it’s just down to the individuals not working hard enough?

(3)(18)

Keeno

Anyone who doesn’t get a Distinction just doesn’t work for it – no matter what they say. I can only speak for BPP but everything is there for you to get a Distinction. Teaching is crap but the exams are very formulaic and similar (in some cases identical) to what you do in class.

(10)(7)

Mjhutch

The first stage is to learn how to spell.

(1)(10)

James

The article has referred to the BPP LPC provider…. is the University of Law any better or are the issues a universal problem across all LPC providers?

(1)(0)

BPP LPC Student

Tbh the noise surrounding BPP is partly because ULaw implemented a better no detriment policy for its students and from what I heard had better exams processes/systems. Contrastingly, BPP pretty much has a monopoly on the LPC now, so the incentive to go above and beyond for its students just wasn’t there. If you’re a sponsored student – the majority of the city law firms are now sending their future trainees to BPP. ULaw lost Linklaters this year which means BPP now have all of the magic circle, mine and other major US firms, and a majority of the other city firms.

(3)(3)

Jessie

Interesting point on the no detriment policy. Hopefully despite the issues outlined everyone gets the results they wanted.

Didnt realise all the main firms use BPP for the LPC now. Surely they must be doing something right to win Linklaters?

(1)(0)

Chris

I think it’s more to do with the fact that these top law firms are playing keeping up with the Joneses. When it comes to tech, ‘innovation’, AI, most importantly the salary and now the LPC/GDL provider… they are all trying to stay on the same wavelength as each other to show that they are just as good if not better than one another and they will do it by matching the same things that the other top firms are offering

(3)(0)

Anon

Probably not – just cheaper.

I did the ULaw LPC and it was just so much easier than the BPP one (which is easy enough – the LPC isn’t a hard course ultimately) because of the bulk of exams being open book.

Don’t know why anyone who can choose between the two would choose BPP.

(8)(1)

V

Oh look, here’s the survey submitted about BPP’s students’ satisfaction.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1jYWlcRGBVjwEtTfAls4qrlonoNA7-UrU/view

(14)(1)

mark

this is super savage everyone should read this

(7)(0)

I'll shill for you too BPP, send me money

Funny how Legal Cheek didn’t include it in the article when its been circulating with the letter through all of our Whatsapp groups.

(7)(0)

Andy

How do other students sign the letter? I personally know tens of students in complete agreement with pretty much everything in the letter – but were never able to voice their concerns!

And don’t forget, GDL students were affected too.

(8)(0)

Anonymous

Email me bppresponse@gmail.com. Really happy to talk to you about it.

(1)(0)

Madaleine

I’m a GDL student with BPP, taking my exams next month as I started in January, and have had over 50% of my teaching online. I completely agree with the letter, it’s been shocking to see how poorly they have (or, more correctly, have not) supported students.
Before the national lockdown a student at the BPP in Waterloo tested positive for COVID and had been in the building, they refused to move classes online until just before lockdown was imposed and even suggested cramming 40 students in a room that could only reasonably fit 20 people in (the normal class size).
Myself and my classmates complained numerous times, not only about the uni’s response but also the quality of teaching – which became very very poor (we were given new tutors for most classes and they were dismal).

(10)(1)

Anon

As a current BPP LPC student, having started the course in Feb 2020, I was not sent the link to complete this survey. Accordingly, until I saw your link I did not even know that this had occurred or that a report existed. Says it all really……

(0)(0)

V

.

(0)(0)

V

(9)(1)

Jason

It’s funny seeing students posting a breakdown of their LLB and then LPC grades on LinkedIn like any of that stuff matters once you get into practice.

A high first class degree and LPC distinction isn’t going to do much for you after it gets your foot in the door. I have also achieved both but having recently qualified into my firm and looking back I’ve realised how none of that stuff matters if you can’t perform well

(36)(2)

Harry

Interestingly, the people who graduate with the highest first class grades in the cohort tend to go on and do the least in their careers.

It’s a pattern I’ve noticed and sometimes when I look at my own uni cohort and LPC cohort it’s the ones that were obsessed with high first class scores and distinctions that struggle during their TC and moving up the ranks. They don’t know how to perform well once memorisation and writing an essay goes out of the window

(27)(2)

Joseph

Honestly the students that do stuff like this on LinkedIn are insufferable. The constant validation seeking and arse licking on LinkedIn is the reason I deleted it a long time ago.

Law students are the worst people on that site I hate to say it.

(35)(0)

Truth Serum

I’m in the class of 2020 graduating this year for law and almost all the people with TCs in my year group are high 2:1/low first class grade students

In the top 15 highest ranked students, only around 3 have TCs/Bar Scholarships. The rest haven’t done much in their degrees besides from studying

(19)(3)

Ellis

The LPC teaching is only temporarily online and remote and won’t impact September starters anyway

(2)(5)

Student at BPP

For those who started their LPC in January, the teaching is PERMANENTLY online. There are no plans for the lessons to be taught in person as teaching is due to end in late August (we are currently studying our electives), with final exams following shortly after (the exams will also be conducted online).

(7)(2)

Currently working from a shed

For BPP or any training provider for that matter to have move a course such as this online (and the exam) which I would assume would need approval from the regulator is an achievement in itself.

I’m sure it’s been difficult for the students and it sounds like there has been issues, plus it’s certainly not the experience you signed up for but what would have been the alternative?

Could you defer until it goes back into the classroom? Is that an option? Do you have a TC and if so is your firm offering any flexibility?

(3)(0)

Shrug

Well the letter seems to be from students who are self-funding. Students in the consortium/with magic circle TCs got to keep their tutors and class sizes, while everyone who isn’t already at a significant advantage by having firm support got fucked over.

(12)(0)

Think before you type

The Spanish Flu killed more people in the second wave than it did in the first. There is a reason BPP finally finished its big investment into online teaching during lockdown….

(3)(2)

Anon

LC got the letter.. juicy

(3)(1)

Bored of studying w these law uni providers

Having done the GDL at BPP last year and my LPC at university of law this year, I can 100% confirm that ULaw is WAY more organised, considerate to students, reliable and has better quality of teaching and a more reasonable way of examining students than BPP.
That being said, if you’re about to start at BPP, you just have to grin and bear it whilst you are there…. it’s infuriating to experience how they legit are just an unconcerned money making machine, but you’ll survive.

P.s. I realise this sounds like a bitter complaint comment, but disclaimer: my view of both unis is not coloured by bad grades/anything similar.

I genuinely think BPP and ULaw are not comparable. Even the campuses in Holborn (BPP) vs Moorgate (ULaw) show that ULaw clearly invests more money in facilities and student experiences.

(20)(0)

BPP LPC Student

So I’ve studied at both, the other way round. GDL at ULaw and then LPC at BPP.

It is worth noting there was a 4 year gap between me studying at both institutions. I found ULaw to have pretty poor teaching, however at the time I started it had just overhauled its GDL (and been taken over by a PEF, but I’m sure that had no impact on the quality of teaching *cough*).

BPP’s face to face teaching I found superior than ULaw (would explain why ULaw exams are open book). This is think is why the top city firms are pretty much all moving to BPP (I also think they prefer the closed book exam approach – “integrity” and all). However BPP’s COVID response was shocking and laughable. It highlighted what you raised in your comment – re infrastructure it is quite a way behind ULaw (both tech wise and campus wise) , and needs to invest more.

Overall – both institutions are pretty crappy tbh, but then again you don’t study GDL and LPC for fun or for the quality of the institution/teaching. They are both just tickbox exercises ahead of a TC. This is why I try and stress to people to not to waste their own money and self-fund either course, wait until you’re sponsored by a firm.

(4)(5)

Tom

Would you say from a current standpoint the UofLaw teaching is better than BPP?

If UniofLaw doesn’t teach face to face then how else does it teach?

(2)(0)

BPP LPC Student

I didn’t experience the ULaw COVID response first hand so it’d be unfair for me to comment on their remote teaching… however seeing as there has been virtually no noise from the majority of ULaw LPC students regarding ULaw’s COVID response it’s probably at least safe to say that in any case ULaw implemented a good enough no detriment policy to alleviate student concerns and/or communicated with students in a prompt and open manner.

BPP missed the mark on both of those points.

(4)(0)

Anon

“As already mentioned, the initial Proctorio trial on the 7th of May was so over capacity that the VLE failed and locked students out of the system. There was a significant amount of concern by students at the time that the same would happen during the assessments that were scheduled for the following Monday. As it turned out, Proctorio failed on the day of the 11th of May exams as well. Two exams were sat that day: Litigation for the January start cohort and resitting/part-time students, and PCR for the accelerated LPC cohort. Every student was locked out from the exam for a few minutes. However, some students were locked out for longer, with the longest time we are aware of being 70 minutes. BPP did attempt to mitigate the loss of time suffered by students by offering an additional 40 minutes across the board to every student sitting the exam. However, this did not fully compensate those who were locked out of the system for a longer period of time, and benefited the majority of students, who only suffered a minor time penalty.”

– Losing a third of the time set for the exam caused me so much stress and I have a job riding on the exams. BPP did not even recognise this.

(10)(0)

Part-time BPP student

I agree BPP should have found a way to send out hard copy materials ahead of the exams (like they managed to do with the hard copy PSC materials a few weeks into lockdown). However, the materials were available from late Feb with teaching starting in early March. By the time the building closed to staff and students, most people had already had at least 2 seminars. If people didn’t attend their seminars and/collect their materials, it isn’t really BPP’s fault. It is totally different to September 2019 when BPP actually ran out of materials for the electives and people were waiting weeks for their books.

(2)(3)

Current FT student.

At the BPP in Leeds we were given 24 hours notice before the school shut. Most of the students studying my course kept their books inside their lockers (as many did their studying in the library and did not want to carry their books back and forth from the school).

(0)(0)

Also a part-timer...

I don’t think that this is fair. People store books on campus because they’re too heavy to lug around. They only usually keep on them what they need for study at home (and many people study exclusively in the library, especially in London, where many students’ rooms are small, cramped and generally unsuitable for studying in).

Also, don’t forget that there was a reading week literally 10 days before lockdown started. Many students went back home during this.

I also must point out that the government’s announcements were not in sync with universities’ announcements. The universities each decided their own building lockdowns at short notice. It’s not like students had ages to get in and pick stuff up.

(1)(0)

Dave Shaw

BPP’s response throughout lockdown was nothing but disappointing. The IT system suffered from repeat crashes in the first set of exams. The university’s book provision policy has been a disaster. Class sizes have exploded. Learning support have been absent, often reply at the very last minute, and seem to go for blanket policies. Tutors do not know what to do with student complaints. Upper management is generally patronising and invisible. I believe that two students so far have met with the BPP deputy Vice Chancellor and nothing has come out of those meetings. It’s fucked.

P.S. For those saying ‘haha shouldn’t have self-funded’: these issues affected EVERYONE on the BPP system, INCLUDING those with funded TCs. I know that several law firms have had to provide printed materials to their students because BPP did not do so in time. I also know that class sizes post-lockdown went up for everyone, INCLUDING Consortium students, A&O students, Bakers students, etc.

(8)(0)

Prospective LPC student

Has the letter from BPP students actually be published online? I’d be really curious (as I’m sure many other people would be) to know the full content…

(0)(1)

Sup!

(1)(0)

Prospective LPC student

Thank you! I must’ve missed that…

(0)(0)

Lawman

I am a pt LPC student. The response from BPP has been very poor.

What they dont realise is that students will go back and report to their firms. The students will also become decision makers one day.

I will not be surprised if BPP lose their LPC preferred training provider. I also await to see whether the Law Society and Bar regulator take action especially around the Equality Act.

(5)(0)

Marco Peretti

Although the VLE contains many detailed documents and I found the teaching at BPP interesting much remains to be said. BPP publish the wrong assesment deadlines in their documents on the VLE system. Tutors are very difficult to contact. Exam grades are withheld. Certain students on my course were not given their student cards for months. There is a lack of additional support for students from a non-legal background. There is no sense from any of the tutors that they are monitoring the student satisfaction throughout the year or really care about each individuals success in the exams as students are left to their own devices. The response to coronavirus was dissatisfying at best with password protected exam papers online assuming all students would have good internet connections and printing facilities which several did not as well as clear shady practices from the administration team. You can never get through to the phone line team during the covid pandemic. I’d urge all students to be at least partially refunded at BPP.

(3)(0)

Wala

As someone that started their GDL distance learning online and doing it part-time due to learning disability and family circumstances. I can say BPP is not a bad University, but it just feels like so many students and I am sitting my exam after a week and I can say the online tutorials are the most important factor, but it’s about all about self-learning.

(2)(0)

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