DE MONTFORT University has clinched a deal to take over Bristol University's legal practice course from September. The move will take the university a step nearer its ambition of rivalling the College of Law, which now trains 60 per cent of legal practice course students.
Talks have been taking place since February with Bristol, which had considered closing its five-year-old law course after failing to fill all 100 places last year.
A number of other universities were said to be involved, but De Montfort was always considered the front-runner.
A spokeswoman for Bristol University said details were still being negotiated but the principle of De Montfort stepping in had been agreed.
Michael Brown, pro-vice-chancellor at De Montfort, said: "The opportunity was there, and it fitted into our strategy of having four or five centres of good quality law programmes across the country to stand up against the other dominant provider - the College of Law. It isn't healthy to have just one provider in the country."
De Montfort has run a legal practice course at Birmingham University for the past five years and has a similar deal jointly with Cambridge University's department of continuing education and Anglia Polytechnic University.
In all cases, the host universities provide teaching accommodation and access for students to their law libraries while De Montfort delivers the programmes, which are validated by the Law Society.
A spokesman for the Law Society said: "It was Bristol's decision to cease running the legal practice course, but it is up to the Law Society to ensure standards." She said a small validation event would take place shortly.
A spokesman for the College of Law said: "Good luck to them. The college has 3,648 students on the legal practice course. It will be welcome competition but they have a little bit of a way to go."