If the current system does not work then why don't we change it?
“What are your choices when someone puts a gun to your head?
What are you talking about? You do what they say or they shoot you.
You take the gun, or you pull out a bigger one. Or, you call their bluff. Or, you do any one of a hundred and forty six other things.” ― Harvey Specter
Yeaaahhhh 146 other things! I only have 7 suggestions:
1. Refund money (some or all) to those who "missed out"/"didn't quite make it" on the qualification in the last 6 years or passed but could not get pupillage as expected in the last 6 years.
- There is no course that can justify charging 18k - unless providers can show otherwise?
- Out of approximately 1500 people who are taken on each year, half of them fails the whole course - there is a lot of money that has gone to commercial providers who are taking the advantage of the way in which the system currently works. It is not in providers' interest to reduce number of people they are taking on. This condition must be imposed by the Regulator. It also should not be expected of students that they should think they might be the 50% who will fail - no one buys a lottery ticket believing they will lose, they are aware of 1 in a million chances of winning and so that the odds are against them yet they buy a lottery ticket. The same logic applies to the BPTC, yet the financial sacrifice people are making are very different!
2. Review and change the admissions procedure
- The amount of pupils necessary each year is within chambers' control - they are dictating who and how many people they need each year. Pupillage offer should come before admission to the BPTC course. In this way we will never end up with 1500 people on the course each year!
- Review and change the admissions test (aptitude test) currently it is testing ability to read - fairly low threshold.
3. Change the whole BPTC course - the structure, the format, the syllabus or just everything. This course is not actually teaching students what they need to know. We all know it and we all heard it at least once! There is a disconnection between the course and the practice. Make BPTC tailored to the pupillage, make it relevant to the pupillage and make it more educative and in tune with what pupil barristers are expected to do.
4. Scrap the course, just leave the exams on their own - this is in my view the best option and it already has been suggested before. People who are employed or have their pupillage and are actually learning in practice could just pay for an exam, do that exam and get qualification whilst working full-time or doing pupillage etc.
For example: A personal injury paralegal who is very familiar with civil procedure from their personal injury angle. Could just take civil litigation exam, which would cost couple hundred pounds. That person does not need 700 pounds worth of white books or 18 SGS, they can just sit the exam and pass it in their own time!
5. Commercial providers can still offer pre-BPTC courses just none of these would be a pre-requisite for pupillage, designed to aid in learning (do what schools are supposed to be doing). These courses would be focused on a specific module and much cheaper! Similar to CPD courses.
For example: My point 4 paralegal could easily go and pass civil litigation without any tuition, but s/he cannot do they same with ethics? This is where commercial providers come in, offering sensibly priced course for a specific module.
6. Replace classes attendance with on-line learning. It is 2018! This should have been done 10 years ago. It will make short courses economically viable.
7. Please stop selling the dream and then when things inevitably go wrong turn around and say, I told you so you should have known you weren't going to make it! Education must be accessible for all and the Bar is not accessible for all. It is only accessible for the exceptional ones, so make the process reflective of that!
Thank you for your attention. If you want to make any suggestions or have other ideas please share because the current system is just not working in students' or chambers' favour!