Bar course provider pass rates vary from 93% to just 22%, new report shows

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More than half fail to score above 50%

Average Bar Training Course (BTC) pass rates among providers range from as high as 93% to as low as 22%, new statistics released by the Bar Standards Board have shown.

The BSB chair’s report analysed over a period of two years the performance of 20 bar education and training centres in the centralised exams — criminal litigation and civil litigation.

The Inns of Court College of Advocacy (ICCA) has the highest average pass rate across both litigation assessments and all sittings to date at 92.5%. The ICCA is “way ahead” the other centres in terms of cohort performance, the report states, with the gap between it and the second-placed Leeds branch of The University of Law being greater than 31%.

Hertfordshire University, according to the BSB, scored the lowest average pass rate across the two subjects at just 21.5%. More than half of the 20 providers failed to score above 50%.

Credit: BSB
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Commenting on Hertfordshire’s pass rate, law school dean Penny Carey said: “We are extremely proud that our cohort of students are a mixture of international, widening participation and Black, Asian and minority ethnic background students, and that we provide an accessible, flexible and affordable pathway into this profession that is helping the bar to diversify.”

She added: “We always knew these first set of exams would be challenging for this group but are confident that through the high quality teaching provided at Herts, they will reach the level required to pass them and graduate ready to begin long and successful law careers.”

The data encompasses the results of the first sitting of the new bar course exams in December 2020 until the most recent in December 2022. It has been “adjusted to allow for the fact that some [providers] may not have had candidates for some sittings”. Hertfordshire, for example, entered candidates for the first time in the December 2022 sit.

Further, the report advises caution when comparing different providers over a period of time as the size of their cohorts “can vary hugely from one sitting to the next, resulting in a high degree of volatility”. The figures may also include re-sit attempts.

In total the data shows 12,380 students have sat exams under the new bar training regime, with just over half (53%) making the grade. The Bar Training Course (BTC) replaced the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) in September 2020, with the first exams undertaken in December of that year.

In a separate report, the BSB indicated that average course fees from 2020 onwards have decreased quite substantially compared to the fees previously charged for the BPTC. The average cost per bar student (adjusted for inflation) was £14,000 in 2022, compared to £18,700 in 2019, a saving of £4,700.

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ICSL educated Barrister

ICCA is the successor to the original provider- ICSL. The original and best!

John Smith

No you throbber. City is the successor to ICSL. ICSL became City.

ICCA was created from scratch. Nobody who taught at City/ICSL designed the ICCA course or taught at City


No, ICSL was run by the Inns of Court. It was then sold off to City University and went down hill.

ICCA is the new Inns of Court bar course.

So ICCA is the successor to ICSL in that they are by the Inns of Court.

Legal Officer With A 2.ii

300 pupillage a year, and it’s incredible that there are more and more BPTC providers all over the UK willing to make people part with their money.

Maybe it’s a great idea to buy shares in the conglomerates that own these ‘schools’?

Do something else

Yes. The industry offering courses to misguided, starry-eyed Bar hopefuls is a scandal. Up to £19k for training for a job for which just a very few have realistic prospects. 1,600+ enrolled students and thousands of previous BPTC grads all chasing ~400 pupillages each year, which become ~300 tenancies.

And many of those will be joining the crim chambers’ churn of crap work for baby juniors to keep chambers in with the sols, to benefit the seniors.

What a racket.

Bazza the Bazza

Given the number of pupillages, you only really need the one, which might as well be the best one…

Legal Explorer

I cannot understand why pupillage, practical legal training, cannot be undertaken by training providers rather than only having chambers, CPS and Government Legal Department as the exclusive providers. There is nothing to stop the Bar Council/BSB establishing university legal firms or chambers that offer both academic and practical legal training. People need to think outside the box so that access to justice is improved. Pupillage is not just about individuals seek the opportunity to become barristers, but it is about making legal services accessible and affordable.


Yes. Bar council to start a chambers. Excellent idea.


Going by the advertising guff from these money making ‘providers’, one wonders when a consumer body will sue them for gross misrepresentation?

But then most lawyers who get to practice engage in constant misrepresentation of the fact, making up untruths, coming up with crazy scenarios that only an idiot would believe.

The simple fact is only serial liars make it in law and the concept of justice and fairness are thrown out the door the day one joins a set or walks into a solicitors office.

As for my ‘learned this and that’ etc, the educated general public rate lawyers at the bottom of occupations in terms of respectability and on a par with used car dealers and estate agents.

Time for the law to get its house into order and end this rip off of the young innocent and naive? It should start by curtailing the university law departments churning out far too many law graduates.

Ah but then it’s ever been thus. Just read Dickens, Trollope.

I’d advise anyone thinking of becoming a lawyer to spend a month in a prison and a month in a magistrates court, a day in each of a county court, a crown court and a ‘family’ court (if it were permitted as the injustices there are infamous and the complete antithesis of justice), and maybe a minute at the RCJ.

That should iron out any silly ideas about justice and make them realise it’s all about fees and money

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