Two privately owned law schools have bucked the UK-wide trend of fewer students applying for university places by reporting a ‘surge in applications’ for their LL.B law degree courses.

Meanwhile, as 335,000 pupils in England, Wales and Northern Ireland receive their A-level results today, the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) has published figures showing that the overall pass rate has risen again for the 30th successive year, although the proportion of entries achieving two or more top grades has fallen for the first time in more than 20 years.

BPP University College says it has seen a 79% increase in applications for its law degrees, while the College of Law has reported 50% more applications than expected for its new two-year law degree, due to start in September 2012. These figures contrast with reports that UK applications across all university subjects are down 8.7% compared with last year.

BPP, which declined to give the number of students applying for its LL.B ‘for commercial reasons’, also reported a 97% increase in applications for its degree programmes overall, which, along with law, include business studies, nursing, and banking and finance.

The College of Law said that its new two-year LL.B law degree has so far attracted more than 600 applications, which is 50% more than the 400 expected. Some 200 to 250 students are predicted to enrol.

BPP chief executive Peter Crisp attributed the ‘surge in applications’ to ‘affordable tuition fees’ and to more students opting for ‘career relevant degrees’, such as law. He said: ‘All our degree programmes have been designed with flexibility in mind - with the option to study in two years as well as three, either full or part-time, as well as via distance learning, allowing more freedom around living and fee costs, and a wider choice on when and how people want to study, or embark on their chosen career.’

College of Law board member for business development Sarah Hutchinson said: ‘The even stronger than expected interest in our LL.B in its first year… only goes to vindicate our long-held belief that there is a need for a law degree which focuses on developing students’ professional legal skills and boosting their employment prospects in the competitive world of law.’

Students receiving their A-level results today will, despite the decline in numbers applying for university places, still face fierce competition, with many courses over-subscribed. Admissions service Ucas says that 357,915 students have now been accepted for university courses.

Some 79,000 UK applicants are still awaiting decisions and 10,000 have already applied for places through clearing, the JCQ says.