Private degrees: cash cows? 2

October 12, 2007

I am sure that universities have nothing whatsoever to fear from "healthy competition", if that is what BPP College will offer.

But we are entitled to ask if such competition will be healthy for education when BPP has announced that one of its first degrees will be an LLB, which it will offer to all students who complete the one-year graduate diploma in law.

There are a number of higher education institutions that award LLBs for two year "advanced standing" degree programmes that incorporate the Graduate Diploma in Law. But I am aware of none that would do so on the basis of a one year programme of study on its own.

BPP's decision may well be "healthy" for its profits and the value of its shares. But it stretches the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications to breaking point and could undermine the credibility of LLBs generally, especially in overseas markets, where the standards of UK higher education are subject to intense scrutiny.

BPP is therefore being at best misguided and at worst downright irresponsible. It will only give strength to those who seriously question the wisdom of giving commercial organisations powers to award their own degrees.

Ian Grigg-Spall
Kent Law School
Kent University

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