15 Jul 2021

The Bar Standards Board has today published the seventh and final annual edition of its statistical information relating to student performance on the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC). As the report has shown in previous years, training for the Bar remains highly competitive.

The report includes information about students who enrolled in the 2019-20 academic year, in total and by provider, as well as those who enrolled on the BPTC in the preceding two academic years. It also provides information on demographics and results for those who enrolled on the BPTC between 2017-18 and 2019-20, and information on those seeking pupillage who graduated from the BPTC between 2015-16 and 2019-20. This provides a wider timeframe in which to see the proportion of graduates who began pupillage within five years of completing the course.

The health emergency had an impact on both the proportion of students completing the BTPC in 2019-20 and on the proportion of BPTC graduates from the 2019-20 intake proceeding to pupillage. Of students enrolling on the BPTC in 2019-20, 18% less completed the course in that year compared with the year before. Of UK/EU graduates from the course in 2019-20, only 10% began pupillage in 2020-21 compared to 23% of the 2018-19 cohort who began pupillage in 2019-20. This reflects the fall of 35% in pupillage places offered in the 2020 calendar year reported by the BSB earlier this year.

The other key findings from the report are:

  • 1,685 students enrolled on the BPTC in 2019-20, a decrease of 68 students compared to 2018-19, but an increase of 66 over the number enrolled in 2017-18;
  • almost half of students (46%) who enrolled on the BPTC in 2019-20 were overseas (non-UK/EU) domiciled, a similar proportion as in 2018-19 when they accounted for 47% of enrolled students;
  • the percentage of female BPTC students has increased from 52.3 per cent in 2011-12 to 57.8 per cent in 2019-20;
  • of the 95% who provided information on their ethnicity, the percentage of UK/EU domiciled students from a minority ethnic group was 35% in 2019-20. This was down by around five percentage points compared to 2018-19, around one percentage point compared to 2017-18, and was at the lowest level since 2015-16;
  • of the UK/EU domiciled BPTC graduates, 39.5% of those who enrolled on the course from 2015 to 2019 had started pupillage by March 2021. This figure increases to around 49 per cent when looking at those enrolled from 2015 to 2018 only, as it can take time for more recent graduates to gain pupillage;
  • of UK/EU-domiciled BPTC graduates who enrolled from 2015 to 2019 and went on to secure pupillage, 55% were female; and
  • when controlling for first degree class and BPTC grade, UK/EU BPTC graduates from minority ethnic backgrounds who enrolled on the course from 2015 to 2019 were less likely to have commenced pupillage than those from white backgrounds. For example, of UK/EU domiciled BPTC graduates with an upper-second class degree and Very Competent overall BPTC grade, 41 per cent from White backgrounds had commenced pupillage, compared to around 23 per cent of those from a minority ethnic background with the same degree class/BPTC grade.

2019-20 was the last year of the old BPTC course and from next year, reporting will be undertaken on the new vocational training courses which began in 2020.

BSB Director of Strategy and Policy, Ewen MacLeod, said: "The annual publication of these statistics gives us up-to-date data. This year’s report enables us to see clearly the impact which the health emergency had on those students starting a BPTC in 2019. We continue to work closely with the profession to make sure pupillage places remain available as the country recovers from the effects of lockdown.”  

You can view the full report on the BSB website.



Notes to editors

About the Bar Standards Board

Our mission is to regulate barristers and specialised legal services businesses in England and Wales in the public interest. For more information about what we do visit: http://bit.ly/1gwui8t


Contact: For all media enquiries call: 020 7611 4691 or email [email protected].

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