Due to the upcoming wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton the Middle Temple has been forced to delay making scholarship offers to would-be barristers until after the date on which they must accept their places on the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC).
According to the Inn the unscheduled bank holiday on 29 April, which follows a later than usual Easter Monday, has resulted in a shortage of volunteers needed to conduct the necessary scholarship interviews. This means many BPTC students will have to accept places on the compulsory course, costing around £15,000 per year, without confirmation of any financial assistance.
The deadline for confirming places on the BPTC is 6 April.
Middle Inn deputy under treasurer (education) Christa Richmond said: “We are of course aware that holding the interviews as late as Whitsun week is very far from being an ideal solution and thought long and hard about possible solutions, but in the end it was the least bad of all workable alternatives.”
Meanwhile, Lincoln’s Inn has also confirmed that its scholarship decisions will be delayed until after Easter, and that students had been informed, but it declined to comment further.
The funding situation for future BPTC students has been exacerbated by ongoing delays at HSBC in relation to the relaunch of its bar loan scheme. The banking giant confirmed earlier this month that following a review of the product, which was launched after a recommendation in Lord Neuberger’s report on improving access to the bar, it will be reinstated (read more).
Kaplan Law School’s BPTC director James Wakefield said: “The problem is that there seems to be no information, only rumours. It would be really good if HSBC could go public with the details as soon as possible and in particular before the BPTC applications deadline, which is coming up very soon.”
An HSBC spokesperson confirmed that a decision is yet to be made about the loan, but declined to comment on how long students would have to wait for this.
Elsewhere, there was better news at Gray’s Inn and the Inner Temple with both confirming their scholarship offers this month.
Gray’s Inn’s awards were on average more generous than last year, with the highest scholarship offered being £17,500 and the lowest £12,500.
The Inner Temple’s average BPTC scholarship has also jumped, rising from £8,338 to £10,000. The Inn’s highest award was £20,000 and the lowest £7,500.
In total the four inns make scholarships totalling approximately £4.5m per year.