A group of LPC students have complained that BPP University should release their exam results before they have finished paying for the course, because of financial difficulties caused by coronavirus.
The university said it is offering help to students impacted by COVID-19 on a case-by-case basis.
Over 700 BPP students had their exam results withheld as a result of non-payment of fees this year, according to details published on the university intranet. That number has been dropping as students paid up, and by the end of April was down to 400.
While a source with knowledge of the matter said the huge numbers were approximately the same as in previous years, students have argued that the pandemic should compel BPP to make special dispensations.
One student told RollOnFriday that, because of the virus, "My finances were impacted and I was struggling to pay the final instalment".
In the end he paid because he felt the results would improve his prospects of finding a job. But, he told RollOnFriday, "I am extremely worried that I may be made homeless during this crisis and be in a position where I am unable to afford to eat. I only have £600 left on my credit card and overdraft to pay for bills, food and rent".
"They have asked us to give them leeway in terms of the major IT problems they have been having", he said, "but are unwilling to provide any such flexibility in return".
In a letter sent to the University, aggrieved BPP students explained that while they "can appreciate the desire to incentivise payment" by withholding results, "we believe this is ultimately more damaging to the most vulnerable and financially disadvantaged students during the COVID-19 pandemic".
The students' letter also flagged teething problems with the new pandemic-proof course which they said were affecting the quality of teaching.
Lecturers "do not have consistent, reliable internet access, which causes several problems ranging from loss of Wi-Fi signal resulting in class interruptions to intermittent and inconsistent audio/video delivery", they said. "We even had a lecture cut short on one occasion due to the lecturer’s internet cutting out completely."
In the before times, students would have been delighted if the odd lecture had suddenly glitched out.
Another issue was the increase in class sizes from 15-20 people per session to 60-70 per session, said the students. It meant activities took longer and "individual feedback from the lecturer is no longer possible in any meaningful way".
They said that the purchase of home office equipment required to participate in remote learning had also disproportionately impacted poorer students.
The students have asked BPP to partially reimburse fees, and as a minimum tell students whose results have been withheld if they need to resit any exams so they can plan accordingly.
In a statement BPP said, “Our programmes continue to run and we are following our usual payment collection processes. We are sympathetic to the small number of students who have been impacted by Covid-19 and are offering extensions or instalment plans on a case-by-case basis”.
The problems cited by BPP's students are likely to be faced by many other education providers as they attempt to adapt to remote teaching. RollOnFriday asked The University of Law how many of its own students' exam results were being withheld, but it did not respond in time for publication.