The Bar Standards Board spent £250,000 on digital examinations this year, a quarter of which could not be completed because of technical faults, the Gazette has learned.
The regulator was charged a quarter of a million pounds to move three bar school assessments online, the Gazette has been told. Candidates experienced considerable difficulties with both the booking process and the online assessments provided by Pearson VUE.
As a result of IT glitches only three quarters of exams were successfully completed in August, and hundreds of students were forced to retake the assessments last month.
The BSB has now appointed an independent reviewer to find out what went wrong during the summer exam period. Professor Rebecca Huxley-Binns, pro vice-chancellor at the University of Hull will investigate all aspects of the delivery of the August assessments, including the handling of reasonable adjustments for disabled candidates and the governance of the BSB’s decision making.
The BSB said it does not comment on ‘commercially confidential information’.
According to a consultation on practising certificate fees and budgeting published by the General Council of the Bar, the BSB is looking to boost its net operating costs in 2021/22, from £6.53m to £6.71m.
In contrast, the Bar Council has made net operating cost savings of £181,000, from £4.26m to £4.08m.
The General Council of the Bar forecast a ‘significant reduction in barristers’ incomes in 2020’ and said it is ‘making every effort to ensure that it avoids adding costs to the profession at this difficult time’. It said it does not intend to increase practising certificate fees for the budget year 2021/2022.