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The BPTC is a ‘rip-off’ says former head of Bar Standards Board

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Ridiculously low pupillage success rate highlighted by Baroness Deech

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The former head of the Bar Standards Board (BSB) — the body in charge of setting the education and training requirements for becoming a barrister — has slammed the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) as a “rip off”.

In an interview with Legal Hackette blogger Catherine Baksi, Baroness Deech said that the current course is “far too expensive”.

She went on:

It’s actually a rip-off and it’s outrageous to pay all that money without even knowing whether you’ll have a job at the end

The BPTC is not cheap: the course alone costs anywhere from £12,000-£18,000.

Most students will study in London. Research carried out by the National Union of Students (NUS) suggests that the average London student will spend £13,388 in living costs.

Leaving London lessens the blow but is pricey nonetheless. The average living costs outside London are £12,056. Depending on where they are based, an aspiring barrister can therefore expect to spend anything from £24,556-£31,388.

It is worth noting that, according to recent research by the BSB, students at regional BPTC providers have less chance of bagging a pupillage than those in the capital. While only 3% of bar students at Northumbria started pupillage during the three year timescale of the BSB’s survey, 27% of those at BPP in London — the BPTC provider with the highest chance of pupillage — did so.

Still, 27% remains pretty awful odds. Deech acknowledged the absurdity of the situation as she went on:

Maybe it’s cruel to encourage thousands of young people to come to the bar when you know there aren’t going to be jobs for them.

She proceeded to suggest that a whole cadre of individuals unable to get into the bar are being created, who “feel bad about the bar for the rest of their lives”.

The BSB reports that, overall, only a quarter of students studying the bar course will go on to receive a pupillage.