University: apprenticeships could be the future, says recruiter

Increases in tuition fees means the overall cost of a law degree is nearly £90,000 and only half of lawyers would have gone to university had it cost as much when they studied, a survey has found.

Legal recruiter Laurence Simons argued that this shows UK universities are failing and need to adopt the controversial approach of the philosopher AC Grayling, who is setting up a new private university, and also embrace apprenticeships.

The company’s survey puts the cost doing a three-year course – including fees, loans and the opportunity cost of not being in work – at £88,700.

It asked 224 lawyers whether they would have chosen to go to university had it cost as much as it does today, and only 49% said they would.

Naveen Tuli, managing director of Laurence Simons, said this showed that the UK’s universities “have failed to offer value to students and provide a relevant education”.

He continued: “Unless universities are able to show they offer value for money, the current costs mean they will fail. AC Grayling’s planned £18,000 per year New College of the Humanities may seem expensive at first glance, but by consulting industry experts in order to ensure students learn skills that will be useful in future, Grayling has ensured students’ money won’t be wasted. To be any more than a pointless expense, universities must offer skills and training tailored to a career.”

Mr Tuli pointed to the apprenticeship schemes now being run by the largest accountancy firms as a template for the legal profession. These provide both degree-level education and the post-graduate accountancy courses over six, paid years.

He recognised that the legal executive route to qualification already offers an apprenticeship approach, and called on some employers, particularly in the City, to change their negative attitudes towards those trying to enter the legal profession without degrees.

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