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BPP finally unveils cost of new SQE courses

By Jemma Slingo >>

Legal educator BPP has devised a cheaper way to train lawyers following the introduction of the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) – but its new courses could still cost graduates over £20,000.

In a long-awaited announcement, BPP unveiled two core SQE courses and two optional extras. Non-law graduates (studying full-time) will take a year-long course costing £16,250 in London and £13,500 elsewhere in the UK.

Meanwhile, law graduates (studying full-time) will take a seven-month course costing £11,500 in London and £9,500 elsewhere.

On top of these mandatory courses, students can also complete two optional programmes: ‘Essentials for Practice’ – which has been developed in collaboration with City firms – and ‘SQE2 Coaching’. The latter costs £5,750 in London and £4,750 elsewhere, while SQE2 Coaching costs £3,000 in London and £2,500 elsewhere.

BPP said discounts and postgraduate funding are available when multiple courses are bought together, and online programmes are also available.

Under the previous rules, law graduates had to complete the Legal Practice Course, costing between £12,659 and £17,191. Non-law graduates also had to take the Law Conversion Course, costing between £9,538 and £11,938. For many students, therefore, BPP’s new training route is likely to prove cheaper than its current options. 

However, BPP’s fees do not include the costs of the assessments themselves: £3,980 payable to the regulator.

BPP’s main rival, the University of Law, published details of its courses in February. The university has developed an LLM Legal Practice course covering both elements of the SQE, for which it will charge between £12,000 and £16,500. Non-law graduates are also advised to complete a law conversion court before embarking on the LLM, which could cost up to £15,000. However, ULaw is also offering shorter, cheaper preparation courses costing as little as £500.

Meanwhile, US legal education giant Barbri has developed an online course for £6,000 and the College of Legal Practice has designed a SQE1 preparation course costing £1,800 and a SQE2 preparation course costing £2,300.

The SQE came into force on 1 September. Developed by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, the new route involves two years of qualifying work experience and two sets of assessments: SQE1 and SQE2.

The wide variety of training options on offer has sparked concerns that students who take cheaper courses will be less highly regarded than those who complete expensive training programmes, creating a two-tier profession. 

(Courtesy: The Law Society Gazette)