Schools & Academies

Our presence, profile and expertise in the sector continues to be recognised by Legal 500 which consistently ranks us as a Tier 1 firm for Higher Education

We have been providing full service legal advice to universities since 1900 and we now act for over 100 higher education institutions and further education colleges

We have a high profile in the higher education sector, and work closely with sector bodies such as UUK, Wonkhe, AHUA, UHR, AULP and AUDE on key sector issues. For example, we recently we joined the University Settings task and finish group (which brings together the Department for Education, Department of Health and Social Care, Public Health England, the Joint Biosecurity Centre and NHS Test & Trace) to talk about Covid-related data governance.

We are actively involved in helping to shape the “universities of the future” through the thought leadership work we do with Universities UK, AHUA, Wonkhe, Collab Group and Independent HE and through our presence on and contribution to sector commissions such as the Higher Education Commission, Skills Commission and the Commission on the College of the Future, all of whom reported in the last year. These activities directly influence government policy and sector strategy. For example, the recommendations of the Skill Commission’s report England’s Skills Puzzle are referenced in the FE white paper published by the DfE in January 2021.

What we can do for you

Student Issues

Our specialist education team advise our university clients on the full range of needs and requirements of their students, including areas such as disputes, complaints and appeals, discrimination, student union matters,  regulation and immigration.

Intellectual property and innovation

Universities often find themselves in positions where individuals working through university channels may have created IP assets. Issues about ownership of IP come up regularly and we are well placed to advise on the University’s entitlement to IP and what steps should be taken in order to safeguard its position and participate in any commercial agreements.

Data protection

Mishandling data could expose universities to substantial fines and serious reputational damage – you can’t afford to get it wrong. Our team regularly advises on updating policies, notices and contracts to ensure GDPR compliance. We are also well versed in dealing with FOIA and subject access requests.

Governance, regulatory and constitutional

Universities often find themselves in positions where individuals working through university channels may have created IP assets. Issues about ownership of IP come up regularly and we are well placed to advise on the University’s entitlement to IP and what steps should be taken in order to safeguard its position and participate in any commercial agreements.

Commercial & corporate law

There are a broad range of commercial issues arising for higher education clients. From simple supplier arrangements through to complex procurements, our expert team can support you on the full range of commercial issues arising. We also advise on subsidiary and spin-out companies and other corporate law issues.

Disputes including student matters

Given the unique diversity of activity within universities, there are a wide variety of disputes which may arise with suppliers, contractors, partners, visitors, members of the public, staff and of course students.  From individual personal injury claims through to multi-million disputes with major IT suppliers, we are able to provide bespoke sector-focussed support to ensure the best outcome for the University.

Property, finance & construction

Property is key to the University’s ongoing functions and therefore it is important to ensure you receive sector focussed advice. Our education sector property team comprises experts in property, finance, property litigation, construction and planning, and advises across all relevant areas including estate management strategies, major campus redevelopments and student and staff accommodation.

Employment Law

HR within higher education faces many unique challenges, our education sector employment law team support you, as well as many other university clients, on a broad range of both contentious and non-contentious employment matters.

Our higher education experience

Advising a university and a College who are creating a “trailblazing” partnership designed to preserve a high degree of autonomy whilst delivering economies of scale, facilitating shared provision and increasing their civic impact

Advising a university on creating a group structure with a number of FE colleges and private providers, including preserving specific funding schemes and managing separate regulatory pathways.

Acting on the acquisition by a private provider of higher education of another provider, where both are registered with the OfS, and one is a charity, including due diligence, advice on structuring and effecting the transfer.

Acting on a number of mergers and demergers between universities and colleges, covering all regulatory, governance., employment, pensions and asset transfers.

Advising a number of institutions on leaving the federal universities of London and Wales and on the merger of universities in both England and Wales.

Advising numerous institutions on collaborative arrangements such as strategic alliances, shared services and joint campuses.

Why choose Shakespeare Martineau?

We have a highly experienced team with a number of specialists who work exclusively with our education clients. Also, our values of ‘unlocking potential’ and ACTBrave resonate with those in the sector

Our Green Campus initiative, which combines our education and energy expertise to support education institutions achieve their sustainable goals

Our involvement in helping to shape the ‘university of the future’ with activities that directly influence government policy and sector strategy, e.g. supporting the Student Futures Commission

How can we help?

Our expert lawyers are ready to help you with a wide range of legal services, use the search below or call us on: 0330 024 0333

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