The intake for undergraduate law courses is on the increase, according to research by the Gazette.

The provisional LLB intake for nine universities which have disclosed figures revealed 286 more students enrolled on courses in 2013/14 compared with 2012/13.

The University of Law reported the largest increase in students (78%) to 196. BPP Law School had the largest number of students enrol on its programme, with an intake of 494 – a 17% increase compared with the previous year.

The University of Bristol and the University of Edinburgh were the only institutions where LLB intake declined, falling 3.6% and 2.3% respectively.

More universities are expected to release figures in the new year.

Chair of the Junior Lawyers Division (JLD) Heather Iqbal-Rayner said the figures were surprisingly high given the precarious state of the legal sector. She said the rise may reflect students increasingly taking subjects perceived to offer higher financial rewards.

‘I suspect it is still very much seen as a profitable profession,’ she said, ‘despite that no longer being necessarily true.’ She said careers services in schools must have frank conversations with prospective law students.

‘We’ve got to be honest about the profession,’ she said. ‘Nothing has really changed, although we are allegedly coming out of a recession.’

The JLD has student representatives in universities and attends career fairs to discuss students’ prospects in law. ‘We’re currently lobbying to let LPC students know [what’s happening] in the sector,’ she said.

Research from the Higher Education Statistics Agency found recent law graduates earn less than the average salary of their peers.

Figures from the class of 2008/09 show that law graduates earned an average of £26,000 in 2012, £1,500 less than the average for all graduates.