Long term trends show that the Bar is increasingly diverse, the Chair of the Bar has said, commenting on figures released by the Bar Standards Board (BSB) but he cautioned that too many students still pay huge fees for a course that might not lead them to a career as a barrister.
BSB figures released today on the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) show that for 2015-16, 19.7% of UK/EU graduates who were awarded pupillage were BME (black minority ethnic)
Chair of the Bar Andrew Langdon QC said: “Whilst competition at the Bar is as tough as ever, BME graduates made up nearly 20% of those awarded pupillage. The profession is becoming increasingly diverse.”
Head of Equality and Diversity at the Bar Sam Mercer said: “These figures reflect the long term trend that we have been carefully monitoring in our Momentum Measures report. Together, they show that more and more BME students are successful in starting a career at the Bar.”
BSB figures also show that only 37-39% of recent graduates have gone on to pupillage, the next essential stage of training to become a barrister. With BPTC tuition costing up to £19,000 for the year, the concern is that many students pay these fees without a clear indication of whether or not a career at the Bar is viable for them.
The Chair of the Bar said: “We have been supporting the work of the Inns of Court in developing a less expensive model of training, splitting the course into two parts so that only those with a realistic chance of securing pupillage will continue with the course. The nature of the Bar is that candidates must be prepared to achieve academic excellence and to compete, but we do not want students with a good chance of success to be put off by the cost. Those currently considering a career at the Bar will want to study these BPTC figures when weighing up their options.”