Applications for the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) have fallen for the first time in three years for 2011-12.
Figures have dropped from 3,100 applicants in 2010-11 to 3,016 for the next academic year, revealing a decline of around three per cent. This follows a growth in the number of applicants by almost five per cent between 2008-09 and 2009-10, and 16.7 per cent between 2009-10 and 2010-11.
Kaplan law school BPTC course director James Wakefield believes the decrease could be attributed to the impact of the BPTC replacing the Bar Vocational Course (BVC) in 2010-11, which introduced tougher entry requirements and a higher pass mark (9 June 2010).
Wakefield said: “It is not a massive fall and it may just be an annual variation. But if it is indeed a drop, I wonder whether students have started to consider that the BPTC is tougher than the BVC is. Chatting to undergraduates it seems the word is getting out there that the course is a lot harder than it used to be. Perhaps those who were unsure about the course are now deciding against it.”
While the BVC pass rate was 50 per cent, this is now set at 60 per cent for the BPTC. BVC students could also take their 12 exams up to three times, while the BPTC allows students to only take them twice.
The news also arrives as funding continues to remain scarce for aspiring barristers, with bar students left out in the cold again after the College of Law announced its first-ever scholarship programme for students who wish to undertake the law degree, Graduate Diploma in Law or Legal Practice Course only (2 November).
The numbers for BPTC enrolment and passes are yet to be confirmed for 2011-12, but enrolment was knocked down by almost 10 per cent between 2009-10 and 2010-11.