While achievement gap between white and ethnic minority students remains large
Pass rates on the Legal Practice Course (LPC) have dropped sharply, new research shows.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority’s (SRA) annual report on quality assurance in education and training for the year 2018 reveals pass rates for the year-long vocational course fell from 66% in 2017 to 56% in 2018. Meanwhile, the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) success rate dipped four percentage points in the same period — from 64% to 60%.
While these figures show some insight into students’ performance for that year it’s worth bearing in mind that those that did not successfully complete the course may have the option to resit or may have been referred or deferred in one or more subjects. This means they could go on to pass in following years.
The report goes on to show stark differences between LPC provider pass rates. Only one of the 25 anonymised law schools listed in the report managed a 100% pass rate. The worst performing law school (again, unnamed to save from any blushes) scraped a 29% pass rate. Five providers scored pass rates higher than 90%, and three fell below the 50% mark.
There were also significant variations between providers in the proportion of students who achieve pass, commendation or distinction grades. The SRA said the reasons for such disparity were “unclear” but stated a number of factors influencing pass rates, including the size of different providers: from a group of 16 students to several thousands spread across different locations (BPP University and The University of Law make up 80% of the market alone), candidate ability, teaching quality and assessment arrangements.
Elsewhere, the report shows the achievement gap between white and ethnic minority students remains large. Two-thirds (66%) of white students successfully completed the LPC, compared with 48% of Asian students and 35% of black students. Last year, the figures were 80%, 55% and 45%, respectively. The report further found white students were significantly more likely to receive distinctions.
These findings come as the LPC and GDL are to be replaced by the Solicitors Qualification Exam (SQE) from autumn 2021.