A multifaceted complaint against legal educator BPP from students on its postgraduate solicitor programmes was formally submitted today.
Students on the Legal Practice Course (LPC) and the LPC master’s course claim the university degraded the quality of teaching during the pandemic, prioritised those with training contracts at prestigious City firms, and ‘bred an atmosphere of mistrust’.
According to allegations in the formal complaint, seen by the Gazette, students with training contracts at BPP’s ‘consortium’ of firms – Slaughter and May, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Hogan Lovells, Norton Rose Fulbright and Herbert Smith Freehills – were sent hard copies of study materials before their summer examinations.
Students allege the offer was not extended to candidates without a training contract lined up, and accused the university of ‘unreasonable bias’.
BPP emphatically denies this claim, saying all students have experienced the same issues and that there has been no favouritism.
Last month, LPC students demanded a partial refund from BPP, claiming in an open letter that the university ‘severely degraded the quality of teaching and assessment’ during lockdown.
According to the letter, some class sizes more than quadrupled in the wake of Covid-19; candidates were locked out of online examinations because of IT failures; and students in London continue to be charged a premium of £4,400, despite the remainder of classes being conducted online with students from other campuses. BPP has allegedly made a ‘blanket refusal’ to provide refunds or compensation.
Students also allege that the university’s student finance team has withheld the examination results of hundreds of candidates who have not paid their full tuition fees.
Last month, a spokesperson for BPP said: 'We understand and are sympathetic to students impacted by the disruption caused by the unprecedented nature of Covid-19.
'Whilst we have taken many steps to provide opportunities for students to continue to progress, if at all possible, our number one priority has been ensuring the safety of students and colleagues.
‘Our programmes continue to run and we are following our usual payment collection processes. We are sympathetic to students impacted by Covid-19 and are offering extensions or instalment plans on a case-by-case basis.’
According to Gazette sources the formal complaint has the backing of around 115 BPP students, who asked for the document to be backdated to 4 June.
Commenting on the formal complaint, a spokesperson for BPP said: ‘We take official complaints raised by students extremely seriously. We cannot comment on individual cases but all complaints go through a robust, credible and independent procedure of review to ensure a satisfactory conclusion is reached.’