Unlike undergraduate degrees, vocational courses such as the LPC, BVC and CPE/PgDL are exempt from government subsidy. The LPC can cost as much as £7,025 and the BVC a staggering £8,200. It’s no surprise, then, that funding is one of the most pressing questions facing young lawyers.
In a world without subsidy, students have to look at other sources of funding. These are by far the most popular:
LEA grants: Some local education authorities provide a limited number of discretionary awards. Competition is stiff, but there’s certainly no harm in trying
Career-development loans: The Department of Employment, together with three high street banks, operates career-development loans (CDLs) to students studying vocational courses. They are designed to cover living expenses and up to 80 per cent of course fees. The government pays the interest during the course and for up to three months afterwards, after which the student pays back the loan at a rate of interest agreed with the bank.
Bank loans: Other high street banks offer favourable loan rates for vocational courses. However, such loans are by and large conditional upon the applicant having obtained a training contract or pupillage.
Bursaries: The Law Society and Bar Council have bursary schemes with a limited amount of funding. However, applicants must show outstanding academic achievement and sufficient poverty to be successful.
Sponsorship: By far the most popular method of funding. Most commercial firms will sponsor students (ie pay course fees and a maintenance grant). A commitment to completing your training with the firm as well as further employment with it is often a prerequisite.
Chambers: Most chambers will only offer financial help during pupillage for those aiming for the bar, leaving most students personally accountable for their BVC fees.
Applications for a place on the BVC should be made through:
The Courses Applications Clearing House (Cach)
The General Council of the Bar
Education and Training Department
2-3 Curistor Street
London EC4A 1NE
Tel: 020 7440 4000
Applications for the CPE, PgDL and LPC should be made through:
LPC Central Applications Board
PO Box 84
Surrey GU3 1YX
Tel: 01483 301 282