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College of Law (CoL) chief executive Nigel Savage is intractable in his refusal to refund prepaid fees to LPC students who, by dint of securing a training contract, are obliged to complete the course at a rival institution.
His attitude seems pretty hard-nosed, but in a sense Savage has a point. After all, the students did agree to the college’s terms and conditions when they signed up. These specifically state that the first instalment of the fee for the course is non-refundable.
Their chosen profession demands a respect for the small print, even at this early stage. And in any case, it’s not as if they’re having to pay another set of fees - their expenses and first two years of employment will be taken care of by their sponsoring law firms. The net result is a group of students who, in the longer term, will be very much in, rather than out of, pocket.
That said, the CoL’s stance is a bitter pill to swallow, given that BPP Law School and Kaplan Law School both claim that in similar situations they would refund all but a £350 admin charge. And with Savage appearing distinctly more relaxed about the £450,000 bad debt that Halliwells has saddled the college with than his students’ plight, the pill begins to take on Brobdingnagian proportions.
To be fair, with Halliwells no longer in existence, CoL will have little choice when it comes to writing off the money that it is owed. But its attitude towards such a large sum suggests that it isn’t short of a bob or two. Its detractors would argue that Savage’s £440,000-a-year pay packet is proof of this.
By securing training contracts these students are potentially setting off on the road to riches too, but they’re not there yet. With the world of £30,000-plus salaries still a year away, close to £6,000 is a lot of money.
And if the college is prepared to brush off Halliwells’ £450,000 bill as just another bad debt – whether it has any choice in the matter or not - the fact that it can’t make a concession and refund a few thousand pounds to a handful of students seems a bit, well, savage.