In the United Kingdom private law schools are not really that different from state law schools. In fact, most students don’t know or can’t seem to tell the difference between the two. In general, the major difference is that state law schools are funded by the government, whilst private law schools receive no funding from the government.
In essence the government has a say in the way state law schools are run, invariably they are controlled and regulated by the government. This was made evident in the recent undergraduate tuition fee hike that resulted in state universities in England charging up to a maximum of £9,000 from September 2012. As a result of the 2010 Browne report, the UK government has heavily curtailed many of its funding for students in higher education and universities, thus placing the onus on the students to fund their own education through the provision of student loans. However in some parts of the UK such as Scotland, Scottish/home students pay no tuition for their undergraduate degree programs.
On the other hand, private universities are often funded through private sources and the income they generate i.e. tuition. Private universities are not funded by the government. The majority of private law schools are considerably more expensive than state law schools. In the UK state universities outnumber private universities by a considerable amount; as a result the government has planned to increase the number of private universities. According to the BBC, “The government says the changes – and increasing private provision – are part of a drive to promote diversity in the university sector which will improve standards and student choice,” however commentators and critics have iterated that: "As we've seen from the US example, this could mean the emergence of fast-growing businesses chasing a quick buck and that could damage our education system.”
There are a myriad of world-renowned state school offering law and LLM courses in the UK such as University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, University of Warwick and University of Bristol – these are all reputable institutions offering quality LLM courses. There are numerous other state universities in the UK with excellent law school facilities offering high quality LLM programs.
Similarly, there are several very good private law schools in the UK. It was recently announced that the prestigious College of Law now known as the University of Law is England’s foremost private university institution and is now allowed to make a profit. Although previously run as a charity, the College of Law has now been taken over by a venture capital firm. The College of Law provides legal education and training such as the legal Practice Course (LPC) and Bar Professional Training Contract (BPTC) which are both professional legal training courses that allows you to become a solicitor or barrister. Another well regarded private institution in the UK is Regent’s College. Although it’s a private institution, it does not make a profit, instead the income it generates such as tuition fees are gathered back for the use of the institution.
Other private institutions offering LLM courses in the UK include, The University of Buckingham and the BPP University College, which both offer a wide array subjects and courses. The University of Buckingham is a long-standing private university founded in the 1970s and offers LLM programs in International and Commercial Law. BPP University College has study Centre’s in Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, London, Manchester and Swindon. It offers LLM courses in: LLM Chinese Business and Investment Law; LLM Islamic Finance and Business Law; LLM Financial Regulation and Compliance among many others. BPP is a highly acclaimed and reputable private institution. The Independent (2012) buttressed this stating “Twenty-seven leading law firms and many FTSE 100 companies trust only BPP to tutor their trainees.”
In general both state and private law schools in the UK provide quality education without compromising set standards.
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