University of Law
|The College of Law (1962-2012)|
Leges Juraque Cognoscamus
Motto in English
|We understand law and justice|
|Established||2012 (university status)|
1962 (as the College of Law)
|Owner||Global University Systems|
The University of Law (ULaw) (formerly the College of Law) is a for-profit, private university in the United Kingdom, providing law degrees, specialist legal training, and continuing professional development courses for British barristers and solicitors. Founded in 1962 as the College of Law, it is the UK's largest law school. The College of Law was granted degree-awarding powers in 2006, and in 2012 it became the UK's first for-profit educational institution to be granted university status. ULaw has eight campuses across England.
The College of Law had been incorporated by royal charter as a charity in 1975, but in 2012, prior to the granting of university status, its educational and training business was split off and incorporated as a private limited company. This became the College of Law Ltd and later University of Law Ltd. The charitable branch, which remained incorporated by the 1975 royal charter, became the Legal Education Foundation. Shortly after the granting of university status in 2012, College of Law Ltd. was bought by Montagu Private Equity. Three years later Montagu sold the University of Law to its present owner, the Netherlands-based company Global University Systems.
The Law Society of England and Wales created the College of Law in 1962 by merging its own solicitors' training school with the tutorial firm Gibson and Weldon. The college was created in its legal form by Royal Charter on 5 December 1975. It was registered as a charity on 24 May 1976 with the aim "to promote the advancement of legal education and the study of law in all its branches". Until the transfer of its training business to College of Law Ltd. 2012, the College of Law was in the top 100 of UK charities ranked by expenditure.
Following the recommendations of the Ormrod Report on the reform of legal education in England and Wales, the Law Society submitted proposals in 1975 for a 36-week Final Examination course for aspiring solicitors and a Common Professional Examination (CPE) or law conversion course for non-law graduates to be taught at the College of Law. The first CPE was held in 1978. The number of institutions approved to deliver the CPE gradually increased until by 2006 the BPP Law School and 27 universities, most of them former polytechnics, were also running the course. However, the leading providers of the CPE (now called the Graduate Diploma in Law) remained the College of Law and BPP Law School whose enrollments still "dwarfed" those of the universities in 2010.
In the 1980s, The Law Society asked the college to produce a scheme for additional tuition in accounts for articled clerks (now trainee solicitors), combining distance learning with one-day's attendance at lectures. Further distance learning courses were developed in a partnership with the Open University beginning in 1998. The Guildford campus of the college also established the Fresh Start distance learning course for solicitors returning to practice after a career break or those wishing to change their specialisation.
The 1990s saw a major change in the relationship between the Law Society and the College of Law. In 1994 Nigel Savage, then the dean of Nottingham Trent University's law school, called for a review of the link between the college and the Law Society which had eight of its council members on the college's board of governors. Savage suggested that this gave the college an unfair advantage in recruiting students to the Legal Practice Course which had been set up the Law Society in 1993 to replace the Final Examination course. The society also regulated the course and determined which institutions would receive a licence to deliver it. He proposed that the college should either "come clean" about the relationship and declare itself the official college of the Law Society or sever the link and become completely independent. The college subsequently severed the link, and the Law Society stopped appointing college governors. Savage went on to become the president and CEO of the College of Law in 1996 and served in that capacity for the next 18 years.
The College of Law established pro bono clinics, with students undertaking legal advice work for free supervised by the college's lecturers. In March 2015 the University of Law (as the college is now called) obtained an alternative business structure licence, allowing it to expand its legal advice clinics. It also restructured its Legal Practice Courses to give students more choice and won contracts to develop law firm-specific LPC programmes for three magic circle firms – Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance and Linklaters. However, by the end of 2014, it had retained only Linklaters, having lost the contracts with Allen & Overy and Clifford Chance who moved to BPP Law School.
The college was granted degree-awarding powers by the Privy Council in 2006, leading to development of its Bachelor and Master of Laws degree programmes. The London Moorgate centre was also opened that year. According to the University of Law, the Moorgate centre is the UK's largest corporate-specific law school.
In 2012, the College of Law underwent a major restructuring. College of Law Ltd. was created as a private limited company to take on its educational and training business. The parent charity changed its name to the Legal Education Foundation. In April of that year Montagu Private Equity agreed to buy College of Law Ltd. for approximately £200 million. On 22 November 2012, it was announced that the college had been granted full university status and its name would be changed to "University of Law". Shortly thereafter, Montague Private Equity completed the acquisition process. This raised questions about the legality of transferring the degree-awarding powers granted under royal charter to the original College of Law to the newly created company, and then selling that company, now with University status, to a for-profit provider. The UK Department for Business, Innovation and Skills explained that while degree-awarding powers cannot be transferred, when a whole institute changes its legal status the powers remain with it. This was considered to be the case with University of Law because all of the original College of Law's education and training business had been transferred to the for-profit college, and the activities remaining with the chartered body were not related to the degree-awarding powers. Dame Fiona Woolf was named the newly created university's first chancellor in 2013.
The university began selling off its property portfolio on a leaseback basis in 2014, starting with the four buildings of its Bloomsbury campus. According to analysis of the university's accounts earlier that year by the Times Higher Education Supplement, the purchase by Montagu Private Equity in 2012 had loaded the university with £177m of debt. Critics had compared the purchase by Montagu Private Equity to the leveraged buyouts of Premier League clubs in English football. At the time, the University of Law's ultimate parent company was L-J Holdco Ltd. which was incorporated in Guernsey and majority owned by Montagu-managed funds.
In June 2015 Montagu Private Equity sold the university to Global University Systems (GUS) for an undisclosed sum. Former UK Education and Employment Secretary and Home Secretary David Blunkett, at the time a visiting lecturer at the London School of Business and Finance (also owned by Global University Systems), was named Chairman of the Board. GUS began a programme of restructuring its UK holdings with the intention of making the University of Law the company's sole provider of academic qualifications and professional qualifications, including the master's degrees previously offered by the London School of Business and Finance. The University of Law announced the launch of its De Broc School of Business in July 2015 but had to defer the first intake of students (originally planned for September of that year) due to low student recruitment.[a]
The summer of 2015 also saw a restructuring of the university's governance. The provost, Andrea Nollent, also assumed the role of Chief Academic Officer. John Latham, who had been its CEO and president since 2014 and had overseen the sale of the University of Law to Global University Systems, resigned by "mutual consent". The office of president became a non-executive position and was assumed by Lord Grabiner. David Johnston, the former Chief Operating Officer, took over as CEO. Johnston was subsequently replaced as CEO by economist Stelios Platis in April 2016. In turn, Platis stepped down in October 2016 and was replaced by Andrea Nollent who serves as both CEO and Vice-Chancellor.
Rankings and academics
Unlike many law schools in the UK and around the world, the university was not ranked in Times Higher Education World University Rankings as it excluded small and specialist institutions.
In the 2014 National Student Survey, based on ratings provided by students of the university, it was jointly classified with University of Exeter, University of East Anglia and University of Buckingham as the UK's second most successful university with a learner satisfaction level of 92% from its students. In the 2016 National Student Survey the university was ranked joint first (with The University of Buckingham) for satisfaction within the student body, achieving an overall satisfaction rate of 97%. The Advertising Standards Authority has noted, however, that this compared the ranking for all subjects, and that when limited to law, ULaw ranked sixth for student satisfaction. In 2017, the university received a Gold rating in the UK government's Teaching Excellence Framework.
Courses and degrees offered by the university (as of 2018) include:
- Bar Professional Training Course (the professional qualification for barristers)
- Graduate Diploma in Law (otherwise known as the Common Professional Examination, or the "Law Conversion Course")
- Legal Practice Course (the professional qualification for solicitors)
- Master of Laws (LL.M) in Legal Practice
- Master of Science (MSc) in Law, Governance, Risk and Compliance
- Bachelor of Laws (LL.B)
- Professional Skills Course (the professional course studied by trainee solicitors by day-release)
ULaw also delivers the Graduate Diploma in Law and Legal Practice Course programmes at the University of Exeter (since 2015), University of Reading (since 2017), and University of Liverpool (since 2018).
The Open University's courses in Law (including the LL.B by distance learning) were offered in association with the University of Law. However, the Open University announced in a 2013 press release that this partnership was being phased out and would end completely in 2018.
In 2015, ULaw established a one-year foundation programme for international students wishing to progress to undergraduate legal study in the UK.
Notable alumni and staff of the University of Law include:
- Jacqueline Bhabha, Professor at Harvard School of Public Health and Lecturer in Law at Harvard Law School
- Cherie Blair, CBE QC, barrister
- Graham Francis Defries QC, lawyer and cartoonist
- Andrew Dismore, former UK Labour Member of Parliament for Hendon
- Maria Eagle, Labour Member of Parliament for Garston and Halewood.
- Charles Falconer, Baron Falconer of Thoroton, PC, QC, former Lord Chancellor of Great Britain
- Margaret Fiedler McGinnis, American musician
- Edward Garnier QC, former UK Conservative Member of Parliament for Harborough
- Cheryl Gillan, UK Conservative Member of Parliament for Chesham and Amersham
- Sylvia Hermon, UK Member of Parliament for North Down
- Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, and former UK Minister of Transport and Community
- Jessica Lee, former UK Conservative Member of Parliament for Erewash in Derbyshire
- Bryan Ian Le Marquand, Minister for Home Affairs for States of Jersey and former magistrate
- Francis Maude, UK Conservative, Member of Parliament for Horsham
- Atupele Muluzi, Malawian Member of Parliament
- Stephen O'Brien, former UK Conservative Member of Parliament for Eddisbury and diplomat
- Fiona Onasanya, UK Labour Member of Parliament for Peterborough
- Mark Reckless, former UK Member of Parliament for Rochester and Strood
- Joshua Rozenberg, British legal commentator and journalist
- Guy Stair Sainty, author on royal genealogy and heraldry
- Jonny Searle, British Olympic rower
- John Varley, former CEO of Barclays
- Anurag Singh, professional cricketer and solicitor
- Keith Vaz, Member of Parliament for Leicester East
- Claire Ward, UK Labour Member of Parliament for Watford (1997 to 2010)
- Sayeeda Warsi, Baroness Warsi, former Co-Chairman of the Conservative Party
- John Widgery, Baron Widgery, Kt OBE TD PC QC, judge and former Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales
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