University law schools miss out on £15m City contract

August 24, 2007

Nottingham Trent University's ambitions for a London law school have suffered a setback after it failed to secure a £15 million contract to train City lawyers, writes Melanie Newman.

Plans by the University of the West of England, in Bristol, to open a similar London school this year have also been put on hold after it too missed out on a sought-after contract from five top City law firms to provide the one-year legal practice course to their trainees. The contract went to the existing supplier, private training provider BPP Law School.

The failure represents a blow to Nottingham Trent's ambitions in London. The university, in partnership with private education firm Kaplan, will next month open the "Nottingham at Kaplan Law School" to offer law courses.

Nottingham Trent held a contract to provide the legal practice course to a number of City firms from 2001 to 2004 but lost out over its lack of a London campus.

Hope of regaining the business had been "a major part of the thinking behind the tie-up with Kaplan", a university insider said.

Nottingham at Kaplan said: "Winning [the contract] this year was not a major goal or part of our plan. The request for proposals came much too early for us as we were setting up in London."

The decision not to open premises in London in 2004 was a strategic business decision taken by the management of the law school at the time, the spokesperson added.

The University and College Union said Nottingham Trent had not consulted it over the partnership with Kaplan and it had concerns about staff working conditions, which had "a direct bearing" on the quality of the education provided. "Against this background there are still a number of points that we need to explore with the university regarding the London initiative."

UWE confirmed it would have opened its planned London law school in September had it won the contract. The Bristol Institute of Legal Practice in London is in discussions with potential partners, and it is unclear when it will open.

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