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ULaw revamps bar course as it slashes cost by over 30%

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New course priced at £13,000 will compete with Inns of Court venture

The University of Law (ULaw) is to offer a new bar course that will be up to 31% cheaper than its existing Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC).

The new Bar Practice Course, or BPC, will cost £13,000 in London and £11,750 outside of London (inclusive of course fee and textbooks). This means its London offering is almost £6,000 cheaper than the current £18,735 price tag.

The BPC, which is subject to approval from the Bar Standards Board (BSB), will be delivered in the law school’s London Bloomsbury branch as well as its Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Manchester and Nottingham centres from 2020. The vocational course will be rolled out in Bristol, Manchester and Nottingham for the first time.

The university says the BPC will be “more tailored and flexible” than the BPTC. ULaw’s Jacqueline Cheltenham, the BPC national programme and student affairs director, said:

“The new Bar Practice Course combines exciting new aspects while retaining the best of what went before, to provide a more flexible and accessible approach to qualifying as a barrister. Students will study in a supportive environment, with pathways tailored to suit their needs and fit around their life where required.”

ULaw says the course will make use of classroom as well as online teaching and technology thorough learning and revision app Synap to facilitate more interaction and engagement than before. There will also be increased face-to-face contact to enable extra support from tutors.

The 2019 Legal Cheek BPTC Most List

News of the course comes after the BSB approved a series of new training rules aimed at making the route to qualification as a barrister more flexible and affordable.

The Inns of Court College of Advocacy (ICCA) confirmed earlier this spring that it had applied for permission to deliver a new two-part version of the BPTC. The ICCA’s course, dubbed the ‘Bar Course’, received the BSB’s backing in summer, and is also priced at £13,000.

Rival provider BPP University Law School (BPP) revealed last month it will replace its BPTC with a Barrister Training Course (BTC) from September 2020. The new two-part course will be shorter (eight months, as opposed to 12), with the option to pause studies after part one. The cost is yet to be confirmed.

ULaw’s new BPC will be available to study full or part-time, but will not be split into two parts. Legal Cheek understands its bar aptitude test will remain in place.

Update: Monday, 2 December:

ULaw has confirmed that applications are now open for its new BPC courses for both July 2020 and September 2020.

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17 Comments

Ian Beale QC

The likes of Lord Sumption never had to go through this rubbish. Back in the day you simply turned up and sat a series of intellectually rigorous exams. These days everything has to be democratised and dumbed down. It’s quite frankly ridiculous.

Anonymous

And a fat wad is demanded for the privilege.

Troll Slayer

My problem with it is less dumbing down – more that the BPTC is an utterly irrelevant troll-guarded bridge to the profession.

The course adds nothing to your ability as a barrister – except maybe the advocacy classes, though the Inns do better advocacy training.

The authorities have a allowed a large number of utter cowboys to profiteer by leeching onto a once proud profession.

Anonymous

The BVC, BPTC, BPC, BTC, whatever the hell you want to call it, is a con. 60% of people who complete the course never obtain pupillage. Most of those people never had a chance.

Move all training back to the Inns, establish a few Inn colleges in the regions outside of London, reduce the intake of students, and up the entrance requirements. A 1st would be a good start.

Anon

Not sure I agree re entry requirements. Lots of barristers have 2:1s, particularly from Oxbridge. Seems harsh to exclude them but take everyone who scraped a first at London Met

Anonymous

A 2:1 from Oxbridge is better than a 1st from anywhere outside the next top 6 or 7 unis.

Anonymous

According to whom?

Anonymous

In this period of grade inflation? Everyone that reviews candidates.

Gerald of Wales

I think it’s higher than 60 percent, isn’t it?

Northern red brick 2:1

Nah. I have a 2:1 from a red brick university that would be viewed as being average by many on here, yet have a comfortable six figure practice at the London civil bar.

Your entry requirements clearly would have excluded me, somewhat unjustifiably.

Don’t get me wrong. Many of my university contemporaries with 2:1s were pretty dim and wouldn’t get within 100m of a decent set. However that’s what interviews are for.

Equally, most of the people in my year who got a first aren’t exactly geniuses, and have found their level working as solicitors in regional firms doing boring stuff like housing or pretend regional corporate. I don’t see why they should get on your BPTC but someone like me who was more interested in drinking and seducing people at university should be excluded – especially as I have more personality.

Oi oi

“Drinking and seducing people”

You’re hard

Northern red brick 2:1

I certainly was for a good proportion of my time at university.

Anon

You do know that those numbers take into account students who do not intend to practice in E&W, right?

probably going to be a barrister soon i guess

Bar Training Course is, or at least was, a pretty big scandal – not by the BSB, but by the independent ‘Law School’ providers.

The BSB did a very wide consultation a few years ago, around 2016ish, where the routes and paths to Bar Training where being reconsidered, and it is nice to see that the consultation looks like it has actually made some real progress.

The biggest problem with the BPTC is not even that it costs so much, but taught so little. The biggest problem was that people who never stood a chance at pupillage were accepted, and they were fleeced out of 15/20k course fees.

This is not aimed at U-Law btw. I’ve met people who did BPTC’s and sought pupillage from places that – and I dont mean to be snobby – didnt even know were Bar-accredited training providers.

Anon

Not sure this does compete with the Inns Course. The big advantage of the Inns course is not so much that it is £6k cheaper, but that it is split into two parts. Part 1 costs £1,000 and you do it on line over three months and do not have London living expenses to pay. Part 2 is full time and costs £12k. You only do Part 2 after being made an offer of pupillage. That seems a much better system as it allows anyone to try to qualify at a cost of a grand, without requiring people with no hope (and even those who are decent but are part of the unlucky majority who do not get pupillage) to shell out £19k and a years living costs.

Jaded and despondent

This is the most tragic part of the current structure – hundreds of people being tricked into believing they can be barristers, and forking out thousands of pounds for one year of not particularly good or useful tuition for a qualification which, in the absence of pupillage, is pretty worthless.

Joshua Brindle

Except the BPC LLM (which many students will have to opt for in order to access government funding) costs a substantial £2,700 more (or £3,000 if you do it in London).

Have The University of Law always charged £2,700 extra for the LLM? I’d be interested to know what extra resources LLM candidates get for such a premium.

As I understood it, the The Bar Standards Board’s motivation for the overhaul was to improve accessibility (i.e. lower the financial burden), not to charge people who require government funding substantially more to allow non-LLM candidates to pay lower fees.

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