CoL slammed for refusal to repay non-starter fees

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  • Admit it Savage. CoL is a profit making charity. A special class in its own right.

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  • Those firms normally make their training contract offers in the beginning of September. By that time the LPC must have already started. The core subjects of the course are approved by the Law Society, so how can this be a problem for the students to carry on with the course? These firms accept applications from people who are already LPC students or even who have completed the LPC. So why the hypocrisy? It is more likely that the agreed bulk numbers with the other LPC providers are now affected?

    The College of Law must not give in!

    By the way, I was half way through my LPC course when I got my training contract, and my firm refunded me the fees that I had paid to the College of Law so far (of course they needed copies of my invoices).

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  • "“We wrote to the college to express our concerns because we thought it was unfair for those students to attend a different law school to the rest of their intake."

    Yes, isn't life tragic.

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  • How can they pass themselves off as a charity? I dont get it... theyr'e clearly not one; they're a legal course provider...

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  • The College of Law needs to re-look at this. While they may be perfectly within their rights from a contractual perspective to hold onto fees already paid - it will have a significant knock on effect for future student intakes.

    If firms/students cannot get fees refunded - it may make LPC students from CoL "less attractive" if no refund is available. It is already competitive enough trying to secure a training contract, without the College making their students appear to cost more to train than students from other law schools.

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  • This is yet another example of CoL being overly aggressive and unreasonable in the pursuit of profit. I know that BPP and Kaplan both refund students if they secure a TC with a law firm working with another law school. Why should firms or students be paying CoL thousands of pounds for nothing.

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  • On a similar note to Anon@2:18, this surely makes CoL much less attractive to students. You're much safer accepting an offer from another provider and transferring across if you accept a TC at a firm with whom CoL has an exclusive relationship. Clearly not every student will be dissuaded, but some of the best probably will.

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  • You bunch of soft scoops. I'm with CoL on this. They've clearly said the position would be different in hardship circumstances but the fact remains that these are firms who have committed to them and then up-sticks'd to competitors. On the business case points, exclusive LPC arrangements only exist for firms who settle their TC intake well in advance so the transfer point would be rare or non-existent. CoLs charity status mitigates their tax exposure and why shouldn't they make cash out of it - they still have central london property and trained lawyer lecturers to pay and we're none of us in the business of doing freebies. Wring out your wet blankets.

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  • Come on, its like saying you are going to a concert, you pay for the tickets then change your mind and decide not to go, are you going to ask the artist for your money back because something better came along. If the training contracts were with good firms then they should refund the students not b**ch at the CoL

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  • Have I missed the point here? The CoL is a very good provider and up there as one of the very best. Just because certain firms "prefer" their trainees to go to BPP and Kaplan does not in any way make these providers any better than the CoL. Students have then approached firms who they may already know do not want their trainees to go to CoL but have tried to obtain a training contract with them anyway, have been accepted and hey presto because of CoL's policy for non refundable fees are left complaining that they cannot get their fees back..... well if thats the case, why approach the firms who prefer you to go to Kaplan/BPP in the first place?
    Yes you have guessed correctly I chose the CoL at Birmingham to undertake my GDL and am now in the second year of LPC - they are brilliant providers.

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  • Ex Col - you are incorrect, firms do not always recruit and agree LPC numbers well in advance. There needs to be some flexibility on the part of CoL on this matter. These days most large firms have exclusive providers and it is just hard faced and greedy to be so rigid on this matter. The LPC market needs a degree of fluidity for people to access the profession. Why are the CoL asking for people to sign up to such large deposits so far in advance of commencing the course? And why do the other schools have a more flexible approach. I think this whole episode speaks volumes about CoL and those at the top who raked in ridiculous salaries this year.

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  • very short sighted, presumably when those firms review and tender for their future exclusive LPC provision contracts, they will remember this.

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  • I agree that the hiring firm should refund the fee to the student and not expect CoL to cough up.

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  • Of course the College should refund the fees!
    What on earth is their loss? Have they really lost £5000 or so as a result of a student going elsewhere? Not this year...it's not like they will have denied a place to another student. So OK, keep some money to cover the cost of materials that might have been printed, but refund the balance.
    The loss of goodwill here will only hurt the CoL - they really have shot themselves in the foot, particularly when other providers don't hold up the careers of their students in this way.
    Nigel Savage, once again knowing the price of everything and the value of absolutely nothing.

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  • I disagree with this exclusive firm provider thing anyway. I found that it was a two tier system between the TC people and the non TC people. I really felt I was missing out not being able to study the same LPC as the TC people. So I say tough luck to all these firms who go for exclusive providers. Also, Savage has a point, non-TC people put a lot of thought into which provider to go for, so if they want CoL why can't the firm just pay for that. Surely, the firm specific and Kaplan LPC is not that different from CoL apart from the fact that at CoL you can bring your notes into the exam (which is why people want to go to CoL). Also, you 'lawyers' having a pop at CoL being a charity - I see that commercial awareness never sunk in - like it or lump it - this is a good option for an education provider.

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  • Rio Ronaldo - you say you felt you were "missing out" and that it was a two tier system, yet then go on to say "surely the firm specific and Kaplan LPC is not that different"!! You cannot have it both ways.
    Of course firms should have exclusive suppliers. They spend a lot of time and money helping design the LPC course for their students and enhance these course with their own workshops and skills training.
    Presumably the CoL are happy to take on students from their consortium firms who are told to change law schools at the last moment. Makes no sense why they cannot offer the same flexibility. I see no reason why they should pocket £5,000 for providing nothing, or indeed forcing students to study separately from the rest of their intake.

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  • i'm with CoL on this one. Kaplan provide a low-cost, low-quality training course. Of course the employers want to switch - it's probably cheaper to write off the fees to CoL and go with Kaplan than to pay the balance at CoL. Of course, you get what you pay for. I'm an ex Kaplan employee, and they're very much the Ratners of the corporate education world.

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  • Badger Turn, the CoL is hardly holding up the careers of its students. They can continue studying at the CoL. Perhaps their firms ought to send their partners along to a GDL provider to learn some basics about the law of contract.

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  • Let this not detract from the issue of corporate excess at the CoL.
    Notwithstanding its charitable status, and operating in a fantastically easy market where there always excess demand, it pays Mr Savage approaching half a Million pounds per annum, and the rest of the board are on similarly inflated salaries. For these people to be paid multiples of the packages of those heading the UK's leading universities (which have to compete on a world stage) is a disgrace. It is to be hoped that the law firms which effectively foot the bill for this use their leverage to call this appalling state of affairs to order. Failing that, I really wonder whether it is not possible for the charity commission to intervene.

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  • "It is to be hoped that the law firms which effectively foot the bill for this use their leverage to call this appalling state of affairs to order."
    The law firms whose senior partners earn two or three times that amount and when times are hard lose everyone else's jobs? I'm sure they're first in the line to complain about executive pay.

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  • as harsh as it may sound - contract is contract!
    They should be happy that they have a training contract now, and on average they will save money. So I really cant see what the fuzz is about!

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  • Of course a contract is a contract. No one is denying that.

    The issue is the lack of foresight and nous the CoL is displaying in sticking to the contract, particularly when other providers do not. Do the CoL not want a continuing relationship with the firms involved?

    The right to enforce a contract doesn't necessarily make it commercially sensible to do so.

    If this is the short-sighted attitude of the CoL, I certainly wouldn't send my trainees there, and I certainly wouldn't apply go there if I were lucky enough to get a training contract I might end up losing the money I'm paying to the CoL should my firm decide to send me elsewhere.

    Surely it's safer to sign up for BPP or Kaplan and transfer to the CoL if need be?

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  • It suspect the CoL have done a fine job in mobilsing their PR team on this thread! However the simple fact is that their stance on this matter is fundamentally unfair, stubborn and shortsighted. Forcing young people to study their LPC at CoL will do little to endear them to a raft of firms or the wider student population. The again, I suppose a chief exec who can justify earning almost 4 times more than the Prime Minister needs to fund the CoL coffers come what may.

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  • @ 10.50pm

    Or, alternatively, the stance of the law firms that are trying to get their staff out of contracts and are whingeing about the consequences are also behaving fundamentally unfairly, stubbornly and shortsightedly?

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  • Yes, but you wouldn't say that to a potential client's face, would you Scep?

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  • CoL a charity?? Chief Exec on half a million £.
    Has the CoL passed the public benefit test?
    Time for the Charity Commission to have a look at this outfit.

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  • The CoL's a charity? How???
    Why are they are charity and BPP and Kaplan are not? Are their fees cheaper? Do they give more scholarships?

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  • Diabolical liberty! Similar thing happened to me. I booked a cruise to the Med and paid a deposit of £1000. I then had a better offer of going to Benidorm with me mates. Would you Adam and Eve it! The cruise company would not give me my money back arguing that the terms and conditions clearly stated that the deposit was non-refundable! "Terms and Conditions"! What do they think I am, a trainee lawyer!

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  • There may be a contract in place but I would think that the clause is unfair and may very well be unlawful.
    If I was an effected student I would sue the COL for the balance on the basis that the relevant clause is unlawfal under consumer regulatons.
    It would be an interesting case.

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  • Dear me people mouth off so easily on here without having a clue what they're on about.
    1) The difference between CoL and other providers in the charity stakes is that CoL is not for profit whereas BPP, Kaplan etc are businesses. If you are an educational institution you practically walk the public benefit test as long as you can show you're not exclusive. CoL is not alone in being fee paying and a charity (just look at the over 1000 private schools who are registered charities) so CoL is not a big exception in any way. You can't use a charity for private gain, which theoretically rules out paying anyone fees that are above what they should be paid. Ultimately though the argument that you have to pay to get the kind of candidate you need has stood the test of time in the public and charity sector so feel free to complain to the charity commission about Nigel Savage but you won't get far. Lobby to change the charity rules if you wish but that's how they stand.
    2) How on earth is there anything that could possibly be illegal about CoL refusing to refund a non-refundable deposit? They are not forcing them to study at CoL, it's the training contract providers that are in order not to have to fork out the money to refund the deposit themselves. It is a consumer contract like any other, the LPC candidates signed up to it of their own free will and they are free to walk away from the obligation to pay their full fees. CoL just won't give them their deposit back. That is the point of a deposit. If you'd take on that case I would suggest re-evaluating if the law is for you.

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  • So why can the College of Law afford to write off the £450,000 of unpaid fees that Halliwells owed, but refuse to do the decent thing here and pay back the individual students. This is not acceptable. One rule for big business and one for individuals. Welcome students to the horrible, unfair world of capitalism. Reach for a copy of the Communist Manifesto - it will be the most important thing you ever read and much more relevant to life than anything you'll ever learn on the LPC. Get your own back against this rotten system.

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  • Re Anonymous 27 Sep @4:29pm, I sincerely hope that you are not really a student with this vomit- inducing pro CoL PR rubbish. However, if you are a student you really need to get a life! Oh, you did make me laugh with your...."Yes you have guessed correctly I chose the CoL". Do you think anyone actually cares?!

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  • "So why can the College of Law afford to write off the £450,000 of unpaid fees that Halliwells owed, but refuse to do the decent thing here and pay back the individual students. "

    Maybe it's BECAUSE it has had to write off the £450k from Halliwells that it WON'T refund the students?

    Or maybe it's because it wants to teach its students and law firms that refuse to use it a lesson that contracts are there for a reason?

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  • Re Scep Tick at 6 Oct 10:01, I think you have too much faith in the whole system! There's no good reason behind why the College are refusing to pay back money to the individuals. The College bosses are just greedy - Savage won't be prepared to take any less than his ridiculous £450,000 salary this year. It is just plain wrong. If the College is a charity (as all those PR people on this thread and the last one keep telling us), you would think that they would want to be seen assisting young students on their path into the profession, not screwing them over. I think this has been a terrible decision by the CoL, especially in the light of what has gone on with Halliwells. Why should these students be expected to pay for the mistakes of Savage in allowing huge credit to build up when Halliwells was clearly sinking? If Savage was a salaried lawyer in private practice - he'd be out. Nevermind that, if he was working as a trainee in McDonalds flipping burgers, he'd be out.

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  • Re Scep Tick | 6-Oct-2010 10:01 am
    "Maybe it's BECAUSE it has had to write off the £450k from Halliwells that it WON'T refund the students?"
    Absolutely not true. The COL has millions of pounds of retained income.
    You should research what you saying before making silly comments.
    The fact that it has so much retained income indicates that it is charging students far too much money.

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