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Top law prof to oversee independent review into summer bar exam fiasco

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BSB announces appointment of Hull Uni pro-vice chancellor Rebecca Huxley-Binns

Professor Rebecca Huxley-Binns

The Bar Standards Board (BSB) has confirmed that Professor Rebecca Huxley-Binns will oversee an independent review into the array of difficulties encountered by aspiring barristers during this summer’s centralised assessments.

Huxley-Binns is the pro-vice-chancellor (education) at the University of Hull having previously held the role of vice-provost, academic enhancement, at the University of Law. She will be joined by Dr Sarabajaya Kumar, a diversity and disability expert from UCL.

As previously reported by Legal Cheek, the “lessons learned review” will report to the regulator’s governance, risk and audit committee, which is composed of independent non-executive directors, and is independent of the BSB.

The probe follows a summer which saw bar students take to social media to report issues with the online exams including being locked out of the proctoring system and resorting to urinating in bottles and buckets over fears their assessments would be terminated if they went to the toilet.

The 2021 Legal Cheek Bar Course Most List

The BSB says the review will cover a range of issues including the decision to cancel the April assessments and hold computer-based exams; the delivery of the exams by proctoring company Pearson VUE; engagement with bar course providers; and the handling of reasonable adjustment needs of students.

Mark Neale, the director general of the BSB, said: “The final figures confirm that a majority of students were able to sit these exams but I can only repeat how sorry we are that so many students were unable to complete them.”

He continued:

“Clearly there are lessons to be learned by the Bar Standards Board and I am delighted that Professor Huxley-Binns will conduct this review for us and that she will have the expert advice of Dr Sarabajaya Kumar. The review will be independent of the BSB and I would encourage anyone who is interested in this issue and anyone who was affected by the difficulties experienced in August to contribute to the review.”

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