A record number of students enrolled on the bar course in 2018, despite the fact most graduates do not go on to secure pupillage, the regulator has revealed.
According to a Bar Standards Board report, 1,753 students enrolled on the Bar Professional Training Course in 2018-19, an increase of 134 on the previous year and the highest number of enrolments since the course began in 2011.
However, just 43% of UK/EU graduates who took the course between 2014 and 2018 had started pupillage by March 2019.
All students who apply for the BPTC must take an aptitude test costing £150. However, the latest figures suggest the multiple-choice assessment does little to filter out those who have no hope of practising as a barrister. The regulator said it has no plans to change the test.
Meanwhile, students who attend a ‘top 10 university’ are significantly more likely to secure pupillage, BSB data shows. Over 71% of students with a first from a top 10 university, and graded ‘very competent’ in the BPTC, have now secured pupillage. In contrast, just 48% of students with the same qualifications from a ‘next 40’ university were successful.
The job market is expected to be even more competitive in 2021 given the disruption caused by the pandemic. This year, 2,142 people applied for 206 pupillages through the Bar Council’s portal system. However, since lockdown, 19 pupillages have been withdrawn and a further 16 decisions have been deferred until later in the year, leaving just 171 offers on the table.
Training providers have recently slashed the price of their BPTC courses, which used to cost up to £19,000. From September, students at the University of Law’s London campus will pay £13,000, while students at the City Law School will pay £14,000.