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National College of Legal Training (NCLT) is to stop teaching the legal practice course (LPC) and graduate diploma in law (GDL), blaming market conditions and a drop in the number of students for its decision.
NCLT, made up of a nationwide group of universities which linked to provide LPC and GDL training under the same brand in 2010, has taken the decision to halt recruitment and will not enroll a new intake of LPC and GDL students for 2013-14.
In a statement, NCLT confirmed that it will continue to teach current students who will enter their second year in 2013-14, saying that students will receive the same learning materials and support as they do currently.
Current students will be contacted by NCLT to reiterate its commitment to their learning and the University of West England (UWE) will be responsible for supporting second year students from all locations.
NCLT was initially a partnership between Central Law Training (CLT), the Bristol Institute of Legal Practice at UWE, Manchester Metropolitan University, Southampton Solent University and the University of Westminster. The institutions teamed up in early 2010 to launch one of the cheapest LPCs on the market. It later rolled out courses to Coventry, Derby, London, Manchester, Southampton and Sunderland.
Rob Farquharson, managing director of CLT said, “The challenging market conditions for legal training have made it difficult continuing with the initiative to provide a national network of support for law firms and students alike.
“We have had some excellent students studying at NCLT and we have been proud to provide an accessible, affordable and high quality provision for students who might otherwise not have attained a LPC qualification.”
Sarah Hutchinson, business development director at the University of Law, formerly the College of Law, said that she believed that the relatively small size of NCLT combined with falling numbers of GDL and LPC students were to blame for its demise.
She said: “If you are going to offer a full, professional service you need a critical mass of students so that they can be supported by employability services and online resources. You can only provide those things if you have sufficient numbers of students and you can make the investment.”
She added: “NCLT was not big enough to invest in online learning. It is a huge investment – don’t be fooled into thinking that online learning is cheap – the upfront cost is huge.”
UWE and the University of Derby have stated their intention to establish a franchise under which UWE’s LPC would run at Derby for full-time or part-time year one students in 2013-14, although this is currently subject to Solicitors Regulation Authority approval and final agreement between parties.
Earlier this month, BPP Law School offered LPC students who do not obtain legal employment in the six months after graduation from BPP a free place on another course (2 May 2013).