Under proposals the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) would no longer entail a compulsory 30-week course, currently priced at £15,000 to £19,000.
The Bar Council and the Council of the Inns of Court (COIC) have backed moves to slash the cost of training and tackle high exam failure rates. Their proposals were published yesterday as an addendum to the Bar Standards Board’s October consultation The Future of Training at the Bar: Future Routes to Authorisation.
The Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) would no longer entail a compulsory 30-week course, currently priced at £15,000 to £19,000. In its place the proposals put a two-part BPTC.
Aspiring barristers could prepare for part 1, the ‘knowledge-based’ component of the BPTC, ‘by any method they think fit or can afford’. Part 2, covering the skills-based element, would require formal attendance as at present. Only those passing part 1 would progress to part 2.
In the proposal, the Bar Council and COIC acknowledge a key flaw of the current system – the high failure rate. ‘It is a matter of concern that the BPTC is associated with a high failure rate which is exceptional for a post-graduate training course,’ it notes. Some 15% of entrants fail the BPTC.
The attrition rate among those who do pass reflects badly on current training standards. The paper concludes: ‘Too many students are accepted on the course who struggle with its requirements.’
With just 400 pupillages a year, those who pass the BPTC at the basic level, or who were awarded a 2:2 in their undergraduate degree stood a one in 20 chance of obtaining a pupillage.
The consultation ends on 31 January 2017.