Income boost from surge in students, Bar watchdog predicts

updated on 27 April 2020

A significant rise in the number of students training to be barristers has been predicted, with the Bar Standards Board (BSB) expecting to collect almost £100,000 more in examination fees in 2020 than in 2019.

The BSB’s latest business plan indicates that examination fees are expected to bring an income of £220,000 in the 2020-21 financial year, a 63% increase on 2019’s prediction. A rise in income of £300,000 to £958,000 is also expected from the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC).

In its figures, the BSB included an expected rise in the number of Bar school students, which correspond with the upward trend that the past two years have seen. The regulator has been “very cautious” in its forecasts from previous years, with adjustments being made to its latest financial predictions. However, it has confirmed that “some impact” on its income and costs will be “inevitable” as this budget was agreed before it could assess the impact of coronavirus.

Since a dip in 2015, the annual number of Bar students has increased by almost 25%, with a 21% rise in bar school students at the City Law School in the past three years and according to the Law Gazette, there are approximately 2,500 people looking for 450 pupillages each year.

London fees have been cut at The University of Law, the City Law school and BPP, with students now paying £13,000 instead of £18,735, £14,000 as opposed to £18,500, and £13,870 instead of the previous £19,000, respectively.

The cuts were made following the Inns of Court College of Advocacy’s (ICCA) decision to offer a cheaper course once it had re-entered the training market. To avoid unsuitable students wasting money on fees, the ICCA, which opens in September, has introduced stringent academic requirements and a demanding application process.