Friday, 9 September 2011

The College of Law

The College of Law is a 'private provider' because it is not HEFCE-funded. However it not only has Degree Awarding Powers and charitable status, but is also incorporated by Royal Charter like the old universities. With a turnover of £73 million and 7,131 students, it is rather smaller than most HEIs, but not small by most other standards. Delivery is from 8 sites across England and Wales.

The College decided to enter the undergraduate LLB market in January 2011 with a two-year accelerated programme. This turned out, of course, to be a bit of a miscalculation as the fees regime announced in the White Paper is not very supportive of this kind of arrangement, and the core/margin criteria even less so. The College's chief executive is accordingly complaining about the White Paper in the press.

With a clear orientation towards the UK market (so that the UKBA is less of a threat), strong employer connections and a sound financial position, the College of Law looks well placed to benefit from the White Paper so the news that they are considering privatisation is very interesting. As I understand it, the trustees of the charity would sell the business, and could then devote the proceeds of that sale to their charitable purposes whilst freeing the business to expand - potentially in areas outside law.

So this is interesting in two ways:
  1. By comparison with the Leeds College of Music case, it suggests that an intermediary step towards privatisation isn't really needed - although of course LCM was a HEC, not a chartered institution. I see this as confirming my view (in contrast with Andrew McGettigan) about the LCM case.
  2. However if privatisation does materialise, then it will provide a very interesting precedent for other institutions which may want to spin out business, art or law departments to manage their own core/margin problems.
I'm not sure how much real benefit the College could gain by privatising itself, so perhaps this will come to nothing. Still: it bears watching.


  1. Andrew

    See what you make of this.


  2. If I am honest, I find myself reaching for the proverbial pinch of salt.

    I'll try to post at more length later. Would RF object to some substantial quotes? It is otherwise difficult to engage with a piece behind a paywall

  3. It should be fee from next week. I was hoping for a proper proposal from the government in the technical consultation (though tellingly that document did spell out what a higher education corporation is), but instead we had to speculate a bit though much of that is based on the Eversheds report .

  4. Thanks. That gives me time to write a proper post.