BPP’s uni status bid hits turbulence

BPP bid for university status nears end of ordeal by quango, but could still stall

Speculation is mounting over the fate of BPP’s bid for university title, with nearly seven months having slipped by since the institution applied to become the country’s second private law school to bag the enhanced status.


The application has been in a quango mangle, but one of the two bodies making recommendations to ministers now says its report is just days from being filed with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

But tensions have heightened following developments in the US, where the Higher Learning Commission has reprimanded the University of Phoenix, which is the American flagship institution of BPP’s parent company, the buccaneering poster child for profit-making higher education, Arizona-based Apollo Group. A spokesman for the Higher Education Funding Council for England tells The Lawyer its board met on 4 July to hammer out final recommendations. Likewise, the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education is understood to be in the final stages of its review.

The commission has put the University of Phoenix on notice that it “is pursuing a course of action that […] could make it no longer in compliance with one or more […] criteria for accreditation”. At issue, according to the commission, are “concerns related to governance, assessment and research and scholarship”.

Also arguably giving the committee in England pause is BPP’s run-in with the Bar Standards Board. In March, BPP put its hands up to an “administrative error” causing a breach of bar rules dictating when offer letters can be sent to prospective students. There was no suggestion that BPP intentionally broke the rules but the BSB made clear its concern.

One commentator posited that the ultimate recommendation to Whitehall from review bodies might be to postpone a decision on university title while issues in America are resolved and the dust settles with the bar.

Peter Crisp, dean of BPP’s law school, declined to comment on the travails of BPP’s US parent.