The latest edition of the Bar Barometer discloses that 2010/11 saw the highest number of applications for the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) in five years – with 3,100 students applying for places.
Published by the Bar Council and the Bar Standards Board (BSB) as an annual report on statistical trends at the bar, the latest report also discloses the increasingly competitive nature of training for the bar.
Of the 1,682 students who enrolled on the BPTC in 2010/11, 32.4 per cent had already secured pupillage prior to beginning their BPTC, a rise of 12.4 per cent on the previous year when 20 per cent of pupils secured pupillage before commencing the BPTC.
The report for 2010/11 also discloses that 61 per cent of pupils did not secure pupillage prior to passing the BPTC.
Of those who secured pupillage the largest proportion, 61.3 per cent, achieved very competent while 23.2 per cent achieved outstanding, an increase on 2009/10 where 10.4 per cent of those securing pupillage achieved outstanding.
In terms of university education of pupils, those attending Oxbridge achieved a significant increase in success from 23.7 per cent in 2009/10 to 34.3 per cent in 2010/11.
Degree class was also an important indicator of success in gaining pupillage with 35 per cent of pupils achieving a first class degree compared to 23 per cent in 2009/10.
Despite work to promote social mobility in access to the bar the report also revealed that 81 per cent of pupils in 2010/11 came from professional backgrounds, compared to 55 per cent of pupils in 2009/10.
The main source of data for the report is the Bar Council’s membership records. The Bar Barometer also uses data from the Bar Standards Board’s BPTC providers’ monitoring data and the Pupillage Supplementary Survey.
In a speech at the Liberal Democrat party conference in Brighton in September, Chairman of the Bar Michael Todd QC said that the Government “must practise what it preaches” on social mobility and that the soaring cost of education and repeated cuts to publicly funded fees were making life for the junior bar particularly difficult (24 September 2012).