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THE COUNCIL of Legal Education has ordered a new inquiry into why black students continue to fare worse than white students on the Bar Vocational Course.Figures released by the council last week show this year's pass rate among ethnic minority students fell to 74.6 per cent from last year's 80 per cent.Among white students the pass rate was 90 per cent, down 1 per cent. The overall pass rate was 87 per cent, down 2.5 per cent.Council secretary John Taylor said Birkbeck College would examine the results in search of explanations for the black/white disparity.Other measures, such as the recent appointment of an equal opportunities officer, have been implemented as part of a wider plan to close the gap.The Bar Vocational Course has been scrutinised closely since 1992 when the pass rate for black students was 55 per cent."The general trend has improved considerably since 1992," Taylor said."We find that encouraging, but it does not diminish our efforts to ensure the disparity is eliminated."Other council figures show that the women's pass rate, of 88.2 per cent, eclipsed that of men, at 86.9 per cent, for the first time.
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