BPP rebuffs claims it prioritised study materials for ‘consortium’ TC holders

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Law school giant partly upholds four of 27 complaints made by LPC students

BPP Law School has hit back at claims that it prioritised the distribution of hard copy study materials to students with training contracts lined up at one of five elite City law firms.

BPP’s dean of academic quality, Christopher Costigan, expressed “enormous sympathy” for those impacted by the coronavirus pandemic but denied accusations of preferential treatment.

Last month a group of Legal Practice Course (LPC) students wrote an open letter in which they claimed, among other things, that students with training contracts at BPP’s ‘consortium’ firms — made up of Freshfields, Herbert Smith Freehills, Hogan Lovells, Norton Rose Fulbright, and Slaughter and May — received hard copies of study materials ahead of their summer exams. The same offer, they alleged, was not not extended to those without a TC lined up.

Denying this, Costigan said the difference was “whether the cohort would benefit, not whether it was a cohort of sponsored students”.

BPP partly upheld just four of the 27 issues raised by students, including complaints in relation to online assessments, its use of virtual announcements, delays in responding to emails, and its no detriment policy.

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Responding to claims some virtual class sizes more than quadrupled during lockdown, Costigan continued:

“The issues around class size arose as a direct result of the pandemic, which is a force majeure event. On that basis, actions the university took to mitigate the impacts, even if they conflict with other contractual provisions, are allowed. Whilst I am therefore able to express enormous sympathy for students as they did not have the educational experience they expected, I do find that the actions of the school to mitigate the impact of the force majeure event were reasonable.”

The document, which was first reported by The Law Society Gazette, also defended the law school’s decision to continue to charge students in London higher fees despite the remainder of classes being conducted online.

Costigan added: “The main thrust of this point is that some students are paying a lower price than others and this is unfair as all students are now being taught online. This is not the correct analysis. BPP University contracts with each student as an individual and our relationship is governed by the terms and conditions of that individual contract; which includes the price for the programme.”

BPP declined to comment.

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