The Bar Professional Training Course: overpriced and redundant

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  • How more redundant and overpriced has the course become since you did yours?

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  • No more overpriced, as I was at City Law School who haven't raised the fees. I imagine equally redundant, unless there have been curriculum changes.

    To be clear, the problem is the course itself. It's not - in my opinion - a problem with the teaching, which at City at least was very good. Limited parts of the course which are relevant to what I now do have proven useful - although the things I wish I had learnt, but didn't, are staggering to list. The BPTC as designed was nothing like the preparation for pupillage it could and should be.

    It's the sheer scale of the opportunity cost, when allied to the financial cost, that makes the BPTC worthy of criticism.

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  • This is a good argument well made. I'd like to know what chambers think about it? Would a longer pupillage at a lower salary benefit bar students better than an expensive and potentially elitist uni course?

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  • An alternative would be to just have entirely centrally set BSB exams, and the students don't need to go to law school at all: we just read the White Book and Blackstones etc... and then sit the exams - simple!
    As for drafting, opinion writing and advocacy, these courses could be provided by the Inns using some of their current scholarship money (and perhaps a modest fee).

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  • An excellent article bulging with points well made. For the conspiracy theorists amongst us however, are such points not beside the point? It seems that the Bar Council have taken it upon themselves to keep an entire industry in legal education afloat, and that is an objective unlikely to be achieved with stream-lining, cost-cutting and limiting training to those with real life pupillages.

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  • The BPTC is a great course! Quit whining. You learn practical skills, and if you want you could also learn academic skills. Your learning is in your own hands to be honest. You could decide to read every case in the white book, or you could just decide to show up at your law school doing the bare minimum. Life is what you make it.

    I am currently doing the BPTC at the College of Law - recently rename The University of Law. I can say that the course is *EXCELLENT*. I even love the course more than I loved University.

    The world is your oyster. Shut up and stop moaning.

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  • Since "the market" seems to have all the answers nowadays, why don't we ask "the market" what it wants?

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  • I agree with the title of this article; and would go further to say that the same is true for the LPC. The only group of people who appear to publicly say that the Bptc is value for money is the course providers.

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  • I teach on the BPTC. And I realise why students are disgruntled. But there are some other issues to consider.

    When you get your practising certificate, you can practice in any court (civil or criminal) in England and Wales. That is why you have to study both halves of the great divide. If you want a practising certificate which is civil only or criminal only, then perhaps then we could have a civil only BPTC or a criminal only BPTC.

    The fees are high, but not because all the providers are making a profit. City Law School, where I work, does not make a profit. The cost of premises in Grays Inn and nearby are ASTRONOMICAL. When you then factor in the staff-student ratio which is FIXED by the BSB, you end up with high costs to staff the course. Would BPTC students really like to have class sizes of 15-20? It would bring the fees down considerably. But I don't think that large class sizes are what students want.

    Then there is the factor of library and computer provision - again fixed by the BSB in their specification; x copies of this book per y students and x number of computer terminal available per y students.

    The other bugbears cited in this article, like the need to use the White Book, 100% attendance are again, dictated by the BSB.

    I and my colleagues work tremendously hard to give my students the best postgraduate teaching we can. We work hard, and over and above our job descriptions and contractual hours.

    If you think that alternative training for the Bar is needed, so be it. But bashing providers like City Law School who simply tries to fulfil the requirements dictated to us is deeply unfair.

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  • Hardly, the BSB charges law schools £400 for each student they take on the course. £400 * however many nationally = a lot of money for the BSB. Protecting the law schools? Yes, but more importantly protecting themselves.

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