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Nottingham Law School defends decision to keep closed-book LPC exams during lockdown

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Response comes amid calls from students to make assessments open-book

Nottingham Law School of Nottingham Trent University (NLS) has defended its decision to keep Legal Practice Course (LPC) exams during the lockdown period ‘closed-book’, after students petitioned the school to allow them to take resources into assessments with them “to reduce the detrimental effect of learning during a pandemic”.

“The NLS LPC assessments, in requiring ‘closed-book’ examinations in most modules, are consistent with the basis upon which the School’s course is validated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority,” a spokesperson for NLS said, adding:

“As such, careful, considered and appropriate thought has been given to what is required of students, to ensure that the assessment task appropriately aligns to whether they are ‘open’ or ‘closed book’. All of the School’s assessments have undergone rigorous internal and external scrutiny with full consideration given to the wider assessment arrangements.”

NLS appears to take a different approach to other major legal education providers; BPP University Law School, The University of Law and City Law School conduct mostly open-book LPC exams, even in pre-COVID times.

The solicitors’ regulator doesn’t stipulate either way in terms of whether LPC exams should be open or closed book, provided certain regulatory standards are met, and this continues to apply in the context of the current pandemic.

The 2021 Legal Cheek LPC Most List

LPC students at NLS this week called on the law school to make assessments open-book. The change.org petition has so far generated 456 signatures at the time of publication.

“It must be recognised that studying for a university course is not done in isolation from the outside world,” it begins. “A global pandemic disrupts learning; therefore, factors must be implemented to reduce the detrimental effects of the disruption.”

NLS said in response it has ‘no detriment’ measures in place to ensure “the exceptional circumstances presented by the pandemic do not adversely affect the assessment of its students”.

Legal Cheek reached out to NLS LPC student Kaitlin Vardarcik who started the petition. She told us it’s unfair that they’re having to complete the same qualification as students at other institutions under more difficult circumstances. “The LPC assessments are not and shouldn’t be a memory test, particularly in the current circumstances,” she said.

Vardarcik plans to push forward with her petition and submit it to NLS LPC course leaders ahead of this month’s assessments. “I hope they listen to us. Our emails haven’t received a great response so I hope if we come together as a cohort we might have more of a voice.”

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