The Junior Lawyers Division of The Law Society (JLD) has weighed into a tussle between BPP and some of its students over the law school’s treatment of them during lockdown.
In July, a group of students on the Legal Practice Course (LPC) and the LLM voiced their disquiet, writing an open letter to the law school’s Vice Chancellor in which they demanded a partial refund of their fees “based on the period of time students were unable to use BPP facilities.”
Among their accusations in the letter to Professor Tim Stewart were IT failures that locked students out of exams, a large increase in class sizes following the imposition of lockdown, the refusal of the BPP to refund printing costs, the inability of the law school to provide hard copies of teaching materials, and the fact that London students were still being charged higher fees than those in the regions despite the fact they were working at home.
One key point raised by the students was that BPP’s main competitor, the University of Law, had successfully addressed many of these issues.
The disagreement has not been resolved in the last month and now the JLD has itself written to Professor Stewart, urging the law school to engage with the students.
JLD chair Charlotte Parkinson wrote: “The JLD recognise that COVID-19 has caused unprecedented challenges and difficulties for everyone. However, a number of the concerns raised by the group have been faced by students at other LPC providers, yet have been amicably dealt with.”
She continues: “The JLD appreciate that every LPC provider is different and, as noted before, that the current climate is difficult for all. However, as a representative body for LPC students, we are concerned that the group, and other students like them, are being asked to accept compromise in a way that others are not.”
“The JLD therefore requests that you take the time to talk with the group, to explain why their concerns have not been appropriately dealt with, and to subsequently take steps to handle the group’s concerns moving forward.”
Student concerns have been front and centre of both national news and in the legal sector in the last week. A major national scandal has broken out over A Level students’ grades; meanwhile, postgraduates taking the Bar Professional Training Course exams online have suffered after technical faults left them unable to complete the tests, while the proctoring system used has meant some students were forced to urinate in buckets rather than leave their seat.