Wannabe barristers face even more debt as fees are upped across BPTC providers

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LPC fees are also up by as much as 6%

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Law schools have upped the cost of their Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) once again, with Cardiff University leading the cost hike, bumping fees by 11%.

According to the latest research released today, BPTC fees have been hiked by an average of 4% across all providers, for the 2016/2017 academic year. Cardiff Law School introduced the largest fee increase increasing them by almost £1,500 (11.2%), to £14,340.

According to legal website Lawyer2B (registration required), the most expensive BPTC course is still provided by BPP Law School.

Aspiring barristers, wishing to study in London, now have to cough up £19,070 — up 3% — to bag a place on BPP’s course. The University of Law (ULaw) also upped its London-based BPTC by the same 3%, but still remains £30 cheaper than its market rival, at £19,040.

For students looking for a BPTC bargain — if that’s even possible in today’s market — the Bristol Institute of Legal Practice, part of the University of the West of England, offers the cheapest version of the course. Fees have risen by just £100 over the last academic year to £13,795.

Today’s news follows a stark warning from Bar Council big-wig Chantal-Aimée Doerries QC, regarding the escalating cost of pursuing a career as a barrister. Late last month, the council chair claimed that students might have to fork out as much as £127,000 in order to qualify.

The situation is similar for those looking to embark on the Legal Practice Course (LPC).

According to the research, BPP has upped the cost of its LPC across all seven of its law schools, by almost 6%. Fees at their London branch now stand at £15,240, which puts them joint top with ULaw. City Law School came in third, having increased fees by £500 — or 4% — to £14,000.

The cheapest LPC course continues to be provided by Leeds Beckett University. Upping fees by just £200, students now pay £7,700, which is almost half what some London providers charge. Only a handful of LPC providers — including Anglia Ruskin and Birmingham City University — took the decision not to increase fees.

Despite the fee hikes by other providers, the University of Hertfordshire revealed last week that it was suspending its LPC. Citing proposed changes to legal education backed by Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), the university management issued a statement claiming they couldn’t charge students for a course that might not be “valid” in come 2018.

A spokesperson for Cardiff University told Legal Cheek:

In common with other providers of higher education we are required by the Competition and Markets Authority to include, when setting out our fees, the whole amount of money which a student will be required to expend in order to pursue a course of study, and to express it as a global figure. Thus previously the materials fee of £950 (spent on books which the student receives directly) and the Bar Standards Board fee of £550 (paid via the University to the regulator) were stated separately but alongside the tuition fee. To ensure CMA compliance these two figures are now amalgamated with the tuition fee. This year (i.e. 2015/16) the tuition fee is £12,345, and in 2016/17 it will be £12,840. Therefore, the increase in the tuition fee is actually 4%.