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ULaw LPC students given exam on a topic they hadn’t covered

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Exclusive: University has issued new assessment and extended submission deadline

Students on the Legal Practice Course (LPC) at The University of Law (ULaw) were left scratching their heads this week after being given an exam on a topic they hadn’t yet covered.

Legal Cheek can reveal that LPCers undertaking yesterday’s Legal Writing assessment (a paper taken over 24 hours and was meant to cover topics so far taught on the LPC) largely covered buy-back of shares — a topic which had not yet been taught.

The University apologised for the mix-up and issued a new assessment some four hours later, according to students who reached out to us. ULaw also extended the submission deadline by a week given the proximity to another exam, Solicitors’ Accounts. They also gave students the option to submit either assessment by the revised deadline.

Yet, some LPC students aren’t happy, with one taking to Twitter to express her frustration at the law school’s “incompetent exam management”. She said: “Students had wasted time and energy on a useless assignment when they have other exams to prep for”, adding that, “after working solidly for four hours they now have to completely start over on a new assignment with zero warning and no extra support.”

Yesterday’s mix-up adds to students’ annoyance over an earlier exam, Wills and Inheritance Tax, where some encountered technical issues when trying to access the online platform. The servers failed, students told us, meaning some were unable to access the paper, while those who could were unable to save their answers.

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A spokesperson for ULaw said: “For technical reasons yesterday we regrettably had to replace a Legal Writing paper. We are in touch with the affected students and we have put in place alternative arrangements for them. With reference to the Wills assessment undertaken before Christmas, we take full responsibility for the issues experienced by our third party supplier and we worked closely with them to resolve this as quickly as possible.”

They continued:

“As you can appreciate we are dealing with unprecedented circumstances in delivering our assessments online but our priority is always to work through these as promptly as possible to minimise any disruption to students.”

The move to assessing students online in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic has not been without challenges for legal education providers. They’re having to grapple with changing government guidance and alter what would normally be in-person, professional assessments to a virtual setting, often with the extra hurdle of seeking regulatory approval.

Last summer saw the Bar Standards Board’s centralised assessments beset by technical issues, while students at rival institution BPP Law School bemoaned IT problems and what they believed to be “persistent failures” with the quality of teaching and assessment.

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