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New report shows that becoming a barrister remains highly competitive

The BSB has today published the fourth annual edition of its statistical information on student performance on the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC).

This new and updated analysis includes information about students who enrolled in the 2016-17 academic year, as well as those who enrolled on the BPTC in the preceding two academic years.

It also includes statistics on students enrolled on the BPTC between 2012-13 and 2016-17 who started pupillage following graduation from the course. This provides a wider timeframe in which to see the proportion of graduates who gain pupillage within the five-year window allowed, following completion of the course.

It continues to show, as reports published over the past three years have identified, that the Bar remains an extremely competitive profession.

Key findings from the latest report are:

  • 4,319 students started the BPTC between 2014 and 2017. 71.2% have passed the course to date;
  • the number of applications for the BPTC for 2016-17 was 2,917. This was 7 more than in 2015-16;
  • 1,424 students enrolled in 2016-17. This is slightly up in comparison to the year before with 24 more students enrolling than in 2015-16;
  • 13.1% of all BPTC graduates in the same period achieved the highest grade, “Outstanding”;
  • the percentage of Overseas (non-UK/EU) domiciled students on the BPTC increased slightly for the 2016-17 cohort to 43.1% from 42.8% for 2015-16 students;
  • of the UK/EU domiciled BPTC graduates, around 42.7% of those who enrolled on the course from 2012-13 to 2015-16 have so far started pupillage. This figure drops to around 40.6% when including 2016-17 graduates as they have had less time in which to gain pupillage;
  • among the UK/EU-domiciled BPTC graduates, 50.2% of pupillages were awarded to women. This was an increase from last year, where the corresponding figure was 48.2%; and
  • 22.9% of BAME UK/EU domiciled BPTC graduates obtained pupillage. This represents a year on year increase of around 2.5 percentage points, but is still low in comparison to the percentage of white UK/EU domiciled BPTC graduates who have gained pupillage (49.5%).

BSB Director of Strategy and Policy, Ewen MacLeod said: “By publishing these statistics every year we are able to use the most recent student data to make sure that our plans to reform the education and training of barristers are supported by the latest evidence. We hope that this latest set of statistics will help students to gauge their chances of success within the current qualification model. The success of any alternative approaches that we may authorise from 2019 following our Future Bar Training programme will be measured by data like these.”

You can view the full report here.

About the Bar Standards Board

Our mission is to regulate barristers and specialised legal services businesses in England and Wales in the public interest. For more information about what we do visit:

About the Future Bar Training programme of change

Future Bar Training (FBT) is our programme of regulatory change, focussing on education and training for the Bar. The aims of the FBT programme are to make the qualification process for
becoming a barrister more flexible, accessible and affordable whilst at the same time maintaining standards of entry. For more information about FBT visit: