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In the biggest shake-up in legal education since the launch of the LPC, the College of Law has become the first non-university-affiliated law school to win degree-awarding powers.
From September 2006 students completing the college's GDL and LPC will graduate with a law degree (LLB) rather than a diploma. It also has the power to award students LLMs.
College of Law chief executive Nigel Savage said: "This is a big difference in status for us. It's a public acknowledgment from the Government that we've achieved a certain standing."
College of Law arch rival BPP Law School has also applied for degree-providing status, but has not yet received Government approval.
BPP chief executive Peter Crisp said he does not expect the results of the Quality Assessment Agency (QAA) review until mid-2007, but declined to comment further.
Savage said: "The college isn't going to get into undergraduate law degrees in competition with the universities."
He did not rule out the possibility of going head-to-head with universities in the future, however.
The Privy Council's decision to bestow the degree-awarding powers follows a review by the QAA and a recommendation to the Department for Education and Skills.
Senior academics led the QAA in assessing the college on its organisation, governance and management, quality assurance and academic standards, as well as support for students and staff.
"Increasingly students are degree shopping," Savage explained. For example, most overseas students who want to be international lawyers want a US or English law degree and would be happy to study in either country.
Savage said: "The English legal market is hugely successful and we feel it's our duty to underpin that."