Pass rates for the Legal Practice Course (LPC) were seemingly unaffected by the pandemic, according to figures published by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
In 2019/20, 57.7% of students successfully completed the LPC, which will eventually be replaced by the Solicitors Qualifying Exam, compared with 58% the previous academic year.
The number who failed the course – not including those who were withdrawn or suspended, or who deferred or may resit one or more of their assessments – dropped from 3.3% to 1.6%.
Similarly, the pass rate for the common professional examination (CPE) for non-law graduates was 58.9%, slightly up from 58%, with the failure rate falling from 6% to 2.8%.
The SRA’s report on education and training authorisation and monitoring activity between September 2019 and August 2020 covers the first five months of the pandemic, when the regulator relaxed some of its requirements for the teaching and assessment of the LPC and CPE.
The number of deferrals more than doubled last year, up from 13% in 2018/19 to 28%, which the report said is ‘likely due to candidates choosing to wait to sit assessments face-to-face, rather than take assessments remotely, or other pandemic-related reasons’.
The gap between successful completion rates between LPC providers narrowed last year with the worst performer achieving a pass rate of 31%, up from 23% in 2018/19, while seven out of 27 providers recorded a 100% pass rate, up from just two of 25.
BPP and the University of Law continued to dominate as the two largest providers accounted for 81% of all students enrolled on the LPC course, slightly up from 79% the previous year.
The SRA also said the figures show students from ethnic minority backgrounds continue to be ‘less likely to successfully complete the CPE and the LPC’.
Almost 65% of white students successfully completed the LPC in 2019/20 compared to 52% of Asian students and 39% of black students, slightly up on the previous year with similar figures for the CPE.
However, the SRA’s attempt to collect ‘socio-economic information’ was largely shunned as only 47% of respondents answered the question about the type of school they attended between the ages of 11 and 16 with ‘unknown’.