The radical move follows the announcement earlier this year of Kaplan’s decision to launch a programme for aspiring barristers, with an initial intake of 60 students from autumn 2010, when the BVC will be replaced with the Bar Professional Training Course.
Kaplan’s decision is expected to cause controversy as it comes just weeks after the Bar Standards Board scrapped its plans to introduce a compulsory nationwide aptitude test for entry onto the BVC after concerns were raised about its introduction by the OFT.
Kaplan, the London arm of Nottingham Law School, claimed the test is designed to filter out students who do not have a realistic chance of passing the year-long course and so will close the gap between the number of students undertaking the BVC and pupillage vacancies.
James Wakefield, who will head Kaplan’s BVC, said: “We’ll only take students onto the bar course at Kaplan who we think have a fighting chance of obtaining a pupillage.”
Kaplan’s strict admissions policy will centre on a selection day for all shortlisted applicants. As well as being interviewed, candidates will be required to take an oral advocacy test and complete a written exercise.
Wakefield argued that the exercises would allow the school to assess students more thoroughly than through a written application alone.
“We’ll be testing a person’s ability to think quickly and present well-structured and cogent arguments – critically important skills for a barrister,” he said.