There is an article on Lawyer2B
today, praising the College of Law for the throwing a "vital life-line
" to part-time LPC-ers.
This so-called "lifeline" is a new trial scheme unveiled by CoL (only one year behind
BPP) to allow part-time LPC students to pay their fees over eight or nine monthly instalments. Wannabe solicitors and barristers who opt for the part time course won't have to cough up their fees in two wallet-busting instalments, as their full-time peers must. Instead they will be able to shell out the £13,300 (LPC) or £16,485 (BPTC) fees in monthly dollops over the length of the course.
Hurrah, says Lawyer2B, this opens the door for aspiring lawyers who would otherwise have struggled to get the money together for the LPC. And this is true to an extent, the new arrangement will undoubtedly be helpful to some of those who might otherwise have a cash flow problem. Especially as banks such as NatWest have long since stopped doling out professional education loans.
But is this scheme really a lifeline? Really?
Firstly, any student opting for this payment plan is going to have to fork out around £600 for the privilege; a £300 administration fee in the first year and a yet unspecified administration fee for the second year, which CoL promises won't exceed £300. So a part time LPC student starting in 2012 will be paying £6,650 a year, plus £300 in admin costs, a grand total of £6,950 to be spread over nine months. That comes to a not insignificant £772 per month of the course, for two years. In anyone's book that's a hefty commitment, especially as the vast majority of part time students won't have the comfort of a training contract in the bag.
But more importantly, is this new scheme not more of a honeytrap than a lifeline? Those who might not otherwise have been able to access the cash (no rich relatives kicking the bucket, no enormous bank loans extended), may well be more tempted to jump onto a two year part-time LPC if they can pay in bits. It feels much more manageable, much easier to sign on the dotted line when that doesn't involve an immediate obligation to pay a lump sum of £3,535.
But woe betide that student finds £772 a month (or £968 for barristers) too onerous, because God knows the College of Law is not shy of collecting unpaid fees
, whatever the circumstances.