Why is BPTC a sham?
This is what I wish I had been told before I signed my cash away but I probably would not listen. Because when faced with a decision: do BPTC and have a plan for a year or two after undergrad; or not do the BPTC and have no plan at all, I would always chose the first option. There is a fake sense of security that comes with it. If you still think in those terms then get this narrow minded thinking out of you head, now!
BPTC: what makes it so special?
Oh the prestige that comes with the title. This whole convoluted procedure. The number of casualties along the way (I am now one of them but back then it was fascinating, how can you even fail this, right?) 12 dinners/qualifying sessions, free wine and networking events. Running around from SGS to mini to legal clinic (insert all other student related activities) and back to work to actually earn some money to pay for all of this. Well yeah! It is intense and I loved it!
Don't forget the wig as well! There is a hope that you will be able to afford and wear one for your call night. Pretty awesome stuff but who actually cares the wig? This is the least important.
Why is it so expensive? Understanding of the BPTC industry:
Full confession here: I have no clue why anyone feels compelled to charge 18k for this course in London and 15k in provinces. I don't know. I wish they revealed where the money goes, but that will not happen because most of the providers are private companies and can charge as much or as little they like.
- The parent company owning BPP Law School net worth is £181 million.
- The BSB estimates for academic year 2015/2016 there was 2910 applications for BPTC course across all providers in the UK. Out of that number 1399 people were taken on but only 777 individuals successfully completed the course.
55% successfully graduated the BPTC in 2016*
Price for the course varies between 14k to 20k depending on the provider, region, whatever else they are selling with it, costs of resits, travel etc. Let's just say, on average, each an individual pays 15k (deliberate undervaluation just for ease of calculation).
Collectively, enrolled individuals in 2016 paid to their respective providers just shy of £21 million. Considering that 45% of them failed, that is potentially £9 million wasted in monetary terms from a student perspective of those who did not make it that year! From the BPTC provider perspective who is a commercial entity, it is a pure profit. They are not in business to run charity for wannabe lawyers or lose sleep at night over what one might have had to sacrifice or whether or not they make it. But can no one see that this is a problem and besides it being a pure profit it is also a pure exploitation?
My semi-best example to use here would be a car crash example (imagine a world without insurance for a minute), if you buy a car and drive it for years without a scratch, good on you! Everyone is happy here. But if you buy a car and crash it in the first hour well then tough s*it it is I am afraid. You got what you paid for and it is your problem that you crashed it. That is how BPTC works at the moment. You get what you paid for and no one cares what you will make out of it.
I can hear you asking but what if the car is faulty? What if the BPTC provider did not exactly fulfil their side of the bargain? Well my friend, do you really want to take on a multi-million pounds industry on your own?
I didn't think so. (I mean, I so wish you could though, but you know this fool for a client nonsense... yeah.)
What is being done?
Talks and consultations between the Bar Council, the BSB, providers and other interested parties since 2012 or longer? Isn't it amazing how much talking is necessary over a rather simple issue? I really wish some one would just cut the crap and shut down the entire BPTC in the form it currently is operating.
What can you do? Is there a way around this?
There might be in the future but there isn't an obvious one right now. Experience? Being employed and pretending to be an adult is 12387654 times better than signing up for this course. It is completely pointless especially during the time when changes are being discussed. That course does not add anything to your skill set, it just drains your finances and leaves you to your own devices throughout. Teaching, tutoring is... well, redundant. If you have 18k to spare there is so much you could do with it, please for the love of God do not hand it over to commercial BPTC provider.
*no specification was made about part-time students, who may have impact on this calculation https://www.barstandardsboard.org.uk/media-centre/research-and-statistics/statistics/bptc-statistics/