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Legal education: Sale of College prompts calls for protection of UK universities

The Government is being urged by academics to protect education institutes after the College of Law was sold to Montagu Private Equity for £200m.

The College of Law was formerly a charity teaching law courses in London and six other cities across England. After the sale, the charity activities will be separated from the potentially profit-making legal education and training sectors of the business.

The College was set up in 1962 and is one of only five privately owned higher-education institutions in the country with the ability to award degrees.

The buyers, Montague Private Equity, were set up in 1968. They have recently made a number of acquisitions, including Emitel, the Polish terrestrial television and radio operator.

The proceeds of sale will be used by the charity, which is to be renamed the Legal Education Foundation, to generate a fund through which will be offered scholarships and bursaries for the furthering of legal education.

Montagu will create a new company to run the legal education business, which will focus on selling and delivering law courses. They have acquired the College of Law brand and all of its accreditations to award degrees. The firm have also committed to providing a £2m fund to award scholarships, and will reinvest 2% of the business's share capital into the fund to provide further scholarships in future.

The chief executive of the College of Law is Nigel Savage.

"This is the beginning of an exciting new era in the history of the college," he said.

The University and College Union (UCU) are far less enthusiastic, and have urged the Government to legislate to prevent more UK universities from being acquired by private-equity firms.

Sally Hunt is the UCU general secretary.

"It is no secret that private-equity firms are circling UK higher education. The Government needs to make clear commitments to protect our universities and public assets," she said.

"It is of paramount importance that those assets and any investment are used to further education, not increase the wealth of shareholders," she added.

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Read more on the story (The Guardian)