College is profiting from student debt, says TSG

The College of Law has shown a record surplus in the past financial year, drawing protest from the Trainee Solicitors Group that students are being laden with unnecessary debt.

In figures just released to the Charity Commission, The College of Law, which is a registered charity, shows a gross income of u29.3m and a gross expenditure of u24.9m in the year ending August 1998. That equates to a profit of u4.4m, up u500,000 on the year ending August 1997.

Trainee Solicitors Group chairman Susannah Haan says: “We have very strong concerns about the apparent level of profit and its impact on increasing student debt.”

Deputy chief executive of the college Alan Humphries says that though the nominal figure is a record, as a percentage of turnover before interest it is lower than last year.

The money will be ploughed back into developments in York, Chester, and – in particular – on IT and building work on the Store Street site in London, he says.

“We are not a plc trying to sweat margins. We are re-investing,” he says. “We have to make sure we can survive in the long term and if you look at our reserves, they're just not that big.”

The college has reserves of u8m, excluding property.

The criticism comes shortly after staff refused to co-operate with the staff appraisal process, out of concerns over performance pay and career structures. Branch director Richard DeFriend says staff were opposed to the system used for assessing performance pay and anxious about the speed of promotion.

However, the boycott was called off within 24 hours when college management assured staff that both issues were under review.