The College of Law has today delivered a stinging condemnation of a consultation paper on collaborative arrangements between higher education establishments to deliver Qualifying Law Degrees, calling it “piecemeal” and “unfortunate”.
In its response to the paper produced by the Joint Academic Stage Board (JASB), a joint committee of the Bar Standards Board and Solicitors Regulation Authority, the College says that the proposals are likely to lead to an “incoherent and burdensome process”.
In particular it roundly criticises the paper for not taking into account the wide range of collaborative arrangements between higher education institutions and the measures already in place to assure quality. The College also condemns the implication made in the paper that quality cannot be guaranteed when partnering with overseas establishments.
The JASB sets and implements policies relating to the academic stage of training for qualification as a solicitor or barrister and is responsible for validating and reviewing Qualifying Law Degrees and Graduate Diploma in Law courses.
Its latest consultation, which runs until January 2011, looks at collaborative arrangements for Qualifying Law Degrees or conversion courses where the award of a UK Higher Education institution is delivered and/or supported and assessed through an arrangement with a partner organisation.
Nigel Savage, Chief Executive of The College of Law said: “We strongly believe that the JASB should not proceed with the proposals in the paper. Firstly it fails to take into account the range and nature of collaborative arrangements which now exist and developments in the quality assurance of such arrangements in higher education generally, both in the UK and in partner countries.
“Secondly many of the consultation questions address, in isolation, matters which ought to form a part of an overall, coherent set of validation criteria. This piecemeal approach carries the risk that it will result in an incoherent and burdensome process, characterised by a box-ticking rather than an evaluative approach.
“Finally the tone of much of the document is unfortunate, with its implication that proper standards of delivery cannot be achieved through overseas partners. That is an inappropriate approach for a profession whose business is increasingly global.”
The College’s response concludes that the JASB takes too narrow a view of collaboration, which could greatly damage innovative developments designed to help prepare students for careers in an increasingly globalised profession.
It suggests that the consultation paper’s proposals are unnecessary and that a coherent scheme for the validation of collaborative partnerships can be achieved by sensible reference to the Quality Assurance Agency’s Code of Practice on Collaborative Provision.
The publication of the College’s response comes just two weeks after the Legal Services Institute (LSI), a policy think tank funded by the College, issued a paper calling for radical changes to legal education and the training of solicitors.