BPP Law School is set to open a branch in Manchester, placing it in direct competition with arch-rival the College of Law.
The school plans to open up a branch in Oxford Road, Manchester’s student heartland, in September 2005. BPP is spending £3m to refurbish the 30,000sq ft premises.
In the first year it hopes to take 150 LPC students and 120 for the GDL, but with future capacity for a total of 600 students. The launch will come just a year after it opens branches in Waterloo, London and Leeds.
BPP chief executive Peter Crisp said the school’s Leeds branch had surpassed predictions by filling all 300 places for its first year, which begins in September.
“The success of Leeds has convinced us that Manchester is going to work,” commented Crisp.
He is now starting the recruitment process for Manchester, with 30 staff needed for the first year.
The launch of the Manchester base threatens the College of Law’s dominance in the North West. Its Chester branch is its largest after London and takes 750 students on its LPC and GDL courses, dwarfing Manchester Metropolitan University, which takes a third of this amount.
College of Law chief executive Nigel Savage was unmoved by BPP’s advance into the regions.
He said: “If it’s on Oxford Road it’s Manchester [Metropolitan University] that should be worried; it could put them out of business.”
Savage questioned the wisdom of the move in the light of the City Eight split, which will see Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance and Linklaters break away to work with the College of Law on bespoke LPC courses, while the other firms go solely with BPP.
“It’s a big step to go from managing one school in London to three all in a couple of years. At a time when they’ve just lost three of their biggest clients to us, it can’t be good to have your senior management distracted by opening other branches,” added Savage.
Crisp countered: “The demand from students and firms is there.”
Manchester Metropolitan was unavailable for comment.