The cost of legal education deters good candidates from less privileged backgrounds, the regulator was told.
A summary of the BSB’s initial responses to its consultation Future Bar Training showed that many respondents thought the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) was ‘prohibitively expensive’ and could be deterring students from a career at the Bar.
Though some thought the course, which costs up to £19,000, was value for money and were concerned that making it cheaper could compromise quality and increase applications.
A small majority of respondents supported the proposed two-stage vocational course, where only those who pass the initial online stage go on to the second part. The model is designed to filter out students likely to fail or be unable to obtain pupillage.
Supporters said it would make the preliminary part of the vocational stage cheaper, while opponents were concerned that it might reduce diversity, lower students’ expectations, and create a two-tier pathway and the separation of knowledge and skills training.
There was opposition to raising the required degree classification from 2:2 to 2:1, largely due to concerns about reducing diversity.
The BSB expects to establish a ‘preferred approach’ this summer, and will publish a consultation later in the year. See also 'The BPTC in statistics' (Counsel, March 2016).