Montagu goes back to school with a deal for College of Law

PRIVATE equity house Montagu has taken over a legal college with the power to award degrees.

It bought the College of Law, which had been run as a charity and is one of just five private higher education providers, after agreeing a deal with the governors.

Both sides refused to put a value on the deal although the proceeds will go towards establishing a £200m-plus fund, set up “in perpetuity” to ensure diversity in legal education, which will be known as the Legal Education Foundation. Montagu is putting £2m into a scholarship fund.

Prof David Yates, chairman of the college’s governors, said Montagu would be an “excellent guardian” of the college, although lecturers group the University and College Union immediately called on the government to “act urgently to protect UK universities” from private equity.

Montagu, which also owns hair products firm GHD and waste services firm Biffa, is thought likely to grow the College of Law into continental Europe. It currently has eight sites, including two in London.

It has appointed Sir Tim Wilson, the former vice-chancellor of the University of Hertfordshire, as a non-executive director of the new board of the college.

The deal marks a rare private equity foray into higher education, although BPP is owned by Apollo.