BPP University

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BPP University
Former names
BPP Law School (1992)
BPP College of Professional Studies (2005)
BPP University College of Professional Studies (2010)
MottoUniversity for the Professions
TypePrivate, for-profit
Established1992
Parent institution
BPP Holdings, Apollo Education Group
ChancellorChris Holmes, MBE
Vice-chancellorTim Stewart
Students15,000 (approximate)
Location
6 London centres, 12 across rest of England, and 2 in Channel Islands
Websitebpp.com

BPP University is a private university in the United Kingdom, owned and run by BPP Holdings, part of the US-based for-profit education company Apollo Education Group.

History[edit]

The University takes its name from the founders Alan Brierley, Richard Price and Charles Prior, who in 1975 set up Brierley Price Prior to train accountancy students.[1] BPP was first granted degree-awarding powers in 2007, and degree-awarding powers for an indefinite time period in 2020.[2][3]

In March 2013, the University and College Union wrote to then UK Business Secretary Vince Cable urging him to shelve BPP’s application for university title, pending an investigation into its relationship with its parent companies, saying, "At risk are both the interests of BPP students and the international credibility of the UK university title."[4]

On 8 August 2013, BPP University College of Professional studies was granted the title of university and rebranded as BPP University.[5] The move to grant BPP university status was criticised by the University and College Union in an open letter.[6] In November 2013, BPP was awarded the EducationInvestor magazine's "Higher/Professional Education Provider of the Year 2013" title.[7]

In September 2017, Times Higher Education reported that BPP had shut down its degree programme in dental and oral sciences with immediate effect after it failed to meet General Dental Council standards just a year after launching the course in 2016, leaving new students unable to start and existing undergraduate students facing an uncertain future.[8]

In June 2017, BPP was ranked "Bronze" in the Teaching Excellence Framework, a government-backed initiative to make teaching standards more transparent for students, with the categories for education institutions being "Gold" as the highest rank, "Silver", and "Bronze" as the lowest rank.[9]

BPP’s undergraduate Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) programme, which was first set up in 2009, was suspended in May 2018 pending a review of the law school's entire programme portfolio. Enrollment in the LL.B. had fallen from 665 undergraduates in 2014 to 105 students by 2017.[10] In July 2018, as a result of the LL.B. suspension, Legal Cheek revealed that BPP had made several staff redundant at its Waterloo campus.[11]

In June 2018, BPP shut down its Liverpool campus and told all of its students in Liverpool to continue their studies at the Manchester campus instead.[12]

In November 2018, BPP’s apprenticeship provision was given an 'Insufficient' rating by Ofsted.[13] In February 2019, Department for Education banned BPP from recruiting new apprentices citing ‘insufficient progress’.[14]

BPP University Law School was appointed as the exclusive provider of training to the City Consortium in December 2019.[15] In August 2020, citing ‘unreasonable bias’, a formal complaint was submitted by BPP students alleging the law school prioritised students with training contracts at the City Consortium law firms during the COVID-19 pandemic and sent them hard copies of study materials before the summer examination, an offer that was not extended to candidates without a training contract lined up. BPP denied the claims and allegations of favouritism.[16]

BPP University was accused of 'disruptive editing' on Wikipedia in regards to a successful case brought against them for unfair dismissal.[17]

On 15 December 2020, the student presidents of the four Inns of CourtGray's Inn, Lincoln's Inn, Inner Temple and Middle Temple – wrote a joint letter to BPP University Law School about what they described as “systemic deficiencies” with the university’s teaching. The student presidents expressed their “unwavering solidarity” with students “negatively impacted” by the quality of teaching on BPP’s Bar Professional Training Course and Graduate Diploma in Law programmes.[18][19]

In May 2021, official data from education watchdog Office for Students found the university to be the lowest ranked institution in the country for student employability. Reporting on the findings, The Telegraph stated, "Over a year after graduating, 69.2% of students from BPP University - which specialises in law and accountancy courses - have not managed to secure graduate employment or further study."[20]

Ownership[edit]

On 30 July 2009, American private education company Apollo Group-run Apollo Global acquired BPP in a deal worth approximately $607 million, funded by an intercompany loan of approximately $104 million from Apollo Group to Apollo Global, $375 million in capital contributions from Apollo Group and $55 million in capital contributions from Apollo Global’s minority shareholder, the Carlyle Group.[21]

In June 2019, Times Higher Education reported that BPP owners, the Apollo Education Group, were looking to sell the University just two years after ownership changed hands in 2017,[22] but in December 2019, The Lawyer reported that "BPP Law School has been taken off the market following six months in which no potential buyer willing to pay the asking price was found."[23]

Student Criticism[edit]

In April 2019, the Bar Standards Board (BSB) launched an investigation after a seating plan error resulted in a number of Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) students at BPP University sitting an exam in what some students likened to a “canteen”.[24]

In May 2019, The Lawyer revealed that BPP University in London was the most expensive BPTC course provider in the country for students in 2019-20, with fees nearly £3,000 higher than the national average.[25]

In July 2019, the university’s law school had to issue an apology after several students on its Legal Practice Course (LPC) received their advocacy assessment materials 48 hours later than promised, with their face-to-face assessments due the following weekend.[26]

In May 2020, BPP was accused of "threatening to withhold" January exam results from students whose fees were overdue.[27] Over 700 BPP students were said to have been affected.[28]

In August 2020, BPP University’s Leeds campus BPTC student Sophie Lamb told journalists that ‘she was forced to urinate in a bucket while sat in front of her laptop in her kitchen during the test’ while taking the online bar exams remotely, after students were told they could fail the exam ‘if they left their seats or did not maintain screen eye contact.’[29][30][31]

On 2 October 2020, BPP Law School students expressed their frustration at exams being scheduled during the December 2020 winter vacation scheme season. Students said BPP University’s timetabling decision would prevent them from participating in the winter vacation schemes run by law firms, which traditionally acts a gateway to a training contract for students. In response to the complaints regarding students being denied 2020 winter scheme work opportunities, a BPP spokesperson said, “Whilst it is unfortunate that BPP PGDL examinations do fall across the winter scheme dates, students do have the opportunity to attend a 2021 scheme.”[32]

Issues during COVID-19 pandemic[edit]

On 20 March 2020, BPP University was criticised for having ‘not clearly communicated’ information to students after a student at its Waterloo campus had tested positive for Coronavirus.[33]

In July 2020, BPP was on the receiving end of criticism from its students during the COVID-19 pandemic for not delivering physical copies of “permitted materials” and textbooks to its Legal Practice Course students.[34]

In an open letter to BPP’s vice chancellor, students on the Legal Practice Course revealed that the law school’s class sizes had more than quadrupled in the wake of COVID-19, with 15-person classes now containing up to 70 students. In the letter, BPP students claimed “BPP University’s response to lockdown and Coronavirus has only served to create an environment of mistrust and anxiety for students, severely degrade the quality of teaching and assessment, and push as many costs of adjusting to lockdown onto students.”[35]

On 22 July 2020, The Lawyer reported that many BPP students were locked out of exams due to IT failures and had demanded a partial refund of their fees “based on the period of time students were unable to use BPP facilities.”[36]

On 12 August 2020, the Junior Lawyers Division of the Law Society of England and Wales, which represents LPC students across England and Wales, questioned the University’s decision to charge students registered at its London campuses higher fees than regional counterparts despite the switch to online education, and urged BPP to “take the time to talk with the group” and handle student concerns moving forward.[37]

On 23 November 2020, BPP students said they intend to report the university to the Competition and Markets Authority after the institution refused for a second time to refund tuition fees for alleged lockdown failures.[38]

Unfair dismissal tribunal[edit]

From June to July of 2020, it was reported that former employee Employment Law lecturer [39] Elizabeth Aylott has successfully brought a constructive unfair dismissal claim at an employment tribunal after BPP University failed to reduce her workload despite her mental health struggles. Her concerns, later diagnosed as Autism Spectrum Disorder, were repeatedly raised issues in reference to her workload, including a period of working over 55 hours per week and having to cancel annual leave in order to meet work demands.[40]

The tribunal found that Aylott had been constructively unfairly dismissed on the basis that BPP University's conduct had undermined trust and confidence. It was also held that an occupational health referral for Aylott was not arranged in a timely manner, and there had been a rush to secure her departure from the University as a result of stigma arising from her mental health.[41]

Following the hearing at the London Central Employment Tribunal, the judgment of the Employment Tribunal was that BPP University (the Respondent) did: (a) Constructively unfairly dismiss Mrs Elizabeth Aylott (the Claimant) pursuant to sections 95 and section 98(4) Employment Rights Act 1996; and (b) Unfavourably treat the Claimant because of something arising from disability pursuant to section 15 of the Equality Act 2010 (“EqA”). However, the tribunal also dismissed claims of (a) Direct disability discrimination under section 13 of the Equality Act 2010; (c) Harassment relating to her disability under section 26 of EqA; (b) Indirect disability discrimination under section 19 of the EqA 2010; and (c) Failure to make reasonable adjustment under section 20 – 21 of EqA.[42]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "BPP HOLDINGS PLC: BOARD CHANGES". Investegate. 7 January 2002.
  2. ^ Hoult, Philip (28 September 2007). "BPP To Offer Degrees". Law Society Gazette.
  3. ^ "The Power to Award Degrees etc. (BPP University Limited) Order of Council 2013 (Amendment) Order 2020". Office for Students. Retrieved 9 October 2020.
  4. ^ Morgan, John (14 March 2013). "Phoenix feels heat over probation threat". Times Higher Education.
  5. ^ Sellgren, Katherine (8 August 2013). "For-profit college gains full university status". BBC News.
  6. ^ "For-profit university prompts fears after US scandals". The University and College Union. 8 August 2013.
  7. ^ "BPP University Wins Higher/Professional Education Provider of the Year 2013". All About LLMs. 29 November 2013.
  8. ^ Morgan, John (5 October 2017). "BPP shuts dental course as regulator raises safety concerns". Times Higher Education.
  9. ^ Rogers, Matthew (23 June 2017). "ULaw beats BPP in undergraduate teaching excellence". Solicitors Journal. Retrieved 4 January 2021.
  10. ^ King, Katie (29 May 2018). "BPP suspends law degree in face of solicitor super-exam". Legal Cheek. Retrieved 20 December 2018.
  11. ^ Connelly, Thomas (10 July 2018). "BPP cuts London staff headcount following LLB suspension". Legal Cheek. Retrieved 7 December 2020.
  12. ^ Walters, Max (28 March 2018). "BPP to shut Liverpool base". The Law Society Gazette. Retrieved 20 December 2018.
  13. ^ https://feweek.co.uk/2018/11/01/ofsted-slams-private-sector-giant-bpp-for-being-unaware-of-the-slow-progress-apprentices-make/ ["Ofsted slams private sector giant BPP for being unaware of the slow progress apprentices make"] FE Week. Retrieved 21 May 2019.
  14. ^ https://feweek.co.uk/2019/02/15/dfe-confirms-ban-on-recruitment-of-apprentices-at-bpp-university-months-after-ofsted-warning/ "DFE confirms ban on recruitment of apprentices at BPP University after months of warning"]. FE Week. Retrieved 21 May 2019.
  15. ^ "City law firm 'consortium' appoints BPP as SQE prep-course provider". 3 December 2019.
  16. ^ Slingo, Jemma. "Students lodge formal complaint against BPP alleging City favouritism". Law Society Gazette. Retrieved 11 August 2020.
  17. ^ "BPP accused of 'disruptive editing' by Wikipedia". 2 December 2020.
  18. ^ Hussain, Aishah (18 December 2020). "Inns of Court student presidents write to BPP over teaching concerns". Legal Cheek. Retrieved 4 January 2021.
  19. ^ "A Joint Letter from the Students' Associations of the Inns of Court". Retrieved 4 January 2021.
  20. ^ Turner, Camilla (19 May 2021). "Revealed: the universities where most students fail to land a graduate job after their degree". The Telegraph. Retrieved 19 May 2021.
  21. ^ "Apollo Global Completes Acquisition of UK-Based BPP Holdings PLC". Vanta Education. 30 July 2009.
  22. ^ Morgan, John (19 June 2019). "BPP sale set to test appetite for for-profit investment". Times Higher Education. Retrieved 19 June 2019
  23. ^ Simmons, Richard The Lawyer, 16 December 2019) "BPP off the market for now as no buyers found". Retrieved 17 December 2019.
  24. ^ Connelly, Thomas (24 April 2019). "BSB investigate after BPP 'error' left some BPTC students sitting ethics exam in 'canteen'". Legal Cheek.
  25. ^ Simmons, Richard (9 May 2019). "Average BPTC fee passes £16,000 as all but three law schools raise prices for 2019/20". The Lawyer.
  26. ^ Connelly, Thomas (30 July 2019). "BPP Law School apologises after 'technical fault' sees LPC students receive advocacy exam materials 48 hours late". Legal Cheek.
  27. ^ Dennison, James (1 May 2020). "BPP accused of withholding exam results from indebted students". RollOnFriday.
  28. ^ Hamilton, Jamie (22 May 2020). "BPP takes 'case-by-case' approach after withholding exam results from 700 students". RollOnFriday.
  29. ^ Johnson, Kristian (13 August 2020). "Leeds law student forced to 'squat down' and urinate in bucket during online exams". Leeds Live.
  30. ^ Sheridan, Daniel (13 August 2020). "Aspiring Leeds University Law School barrister claims she was forced to urinate in kitchen bucket during exam". Yorkshire Evening Post.
  31. ^ "Online law students 'had to use bucket toilet' in exams". BBC News. 13 August 2020.
  32. ^ Hussain, Aishah. "BPP students' frustration over exam clash with winter vac scheme dates". Legal Cheek. Retrieved 2 October 2020.
  33. ^ Dennison, James (20 March 2020). "EXCLUSIVE BPP student tests positive for COVID-19". RollOnFriday.
  34. ^ Hussain, Aishah (16 July 2020). "BPP students aren't happy about having to do without hard copy course materials". Legal Cheek. Retrieved 16 July 2020.
  35. ^ Slingo, Jemma. "LPC students demand refund after 'severe' lockdown failures". Law Society Gazette. Retrieved 20 July 2020.
  36. ^ Simmons, Richard (22 July 2020). "Disgruntled students voice anger over BPP's lockdown actions". The Lawyer. Retrieved 22 July 2020.
  37. ^ Connelly, Thomas (17 August 2020). "JLD writes to BPP over LPC lockdown complaints". Legal Cheek. Retrieved 17 August 2020.
  38. ^ Slingo, Jemma. "Students raise stakes after law school refuses lockdown refunds". Law Society Gazette. Retrieved 23 November 2020.
  39. ^ McKinney, CJ (25 June 2020). "Former BPP employment law lecturer successfully sues for unfair dismissal". Retrieved 12 August 2020.
  40. ^ Webber, Ashleigh (30 June 2020). "Lecturer called ‘mad as a box of frogs’ wins constructive dismissal claim". Retrieved 12 August 2020.
  41. ^ Oliver, Joanne (3 July 2020). "Failure to Address Workload Concerns May Amount to Breach of Contract and Discrimination Claims". Retrieved 12 August 2020.
  42. ^ "Mrs E Aylott v BPP University Ltd: 2201378/2019 and 2201817/2019 - Judgment with Reasons" (PDF). HM Courts & Tribunals Service. Retrieved 9 October 2020.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°30′18″N 0°13′23″W / 51.50500°N 0.22306°W / 51.50500; -0.22306