The BTC, the BPC, the BVS and the Bar Course: Fees and Funding
The April 2020 Bar Qualification Rules will greatly affect the qualification process for aspiring barristers. In particular, the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) is being phased out in favour of several alternative pathways offered by various institutions. These new programmes will not only cost considerably less, but are also expected to provide superior training. The BTC, the BPC, the BVS and the Bar Course are four examples of these new pathways.
Even taking into account the new fee adjustments, however, the total expense is far from insignificant and will result in a financial burden for some aspiring barristers. Fortunately, a number of possible means of funding are available, which should help to expand the pool of potential barristers.
The most recent fees for the BPTC topped out at £19,070. So far, it appears that fees for the new pathways will total 20 to 30% less than the fees for the old BPTC:
- BPP University Law School’s Barrister Training Course (BTC) costs £13,870 if taken in London and £12,620 if taken elsewhere.
- The BTC offered by the Inns of Court College of Advocacy (ICCA) costs £13,000.
- University of Law Bar Practice Course (BPC) costs £13,000 in London and £11,750 elsewhere.
- The City University of London’s Bar Vocational Studies course costs £16,500.
- Northumbria’s University’s Bar Course costs £12,550.
Following is a list of some of the main sources of funding that an aspiring barrister might rely on.
If your biggest problem is cash flow rather than total cost, it is possible to pay in two installments—BPP and the ICCA (perhaps to be followed by other providers) have indicated the students will not have to purchase the entire course at once. It is possible to take and pay for Part 1 and Part 2 separately. It is even possible to pause between Part 1 and Part 2 in order to save money for Part 2. In both cases, Part 1 is considerably less expensive than Part 2, although the total cost is somewhat higher if you pay for each part separately.
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You may also be eligible for a tuition discount if you have already completed a course at the university or institution you are enrolled in. The University of Law, for example, offers a £500 discount against your second course fee.
Government-sponsored postgraduate loans
A government-funded Postgraduate Master’s Loan of up to £10,906 is available to students seeking to qualify through the new pathways (subject to certain eligibility rules). A payment plan is offered that allows repayment over your period of your study, even if you study part-time.
Eligibility will be based on your personal circumstances, the specific course you are taking, the institution you are studying at, your nationality (you must be a UK national or have settled status), your residency (you must have resided continuously in the UK for three years) and certain other factors.
Private postgraduate loans
If you are not eligible for a Postgraduate Master’s Loan, you can apply for a private loan through various providers. Future Finance, for example, offers loans of up to £40,000 and repayment periods of up to 10 years. Private bank loans are also available from certain high street banks. High street bank loans maintain strict eligibility requirements, and amounts range from £1,000 to £15,000.
Of course, when entering any sort of private loan agreement you should be fully aware of the risks of doing so and be sure that the repayment plan and interest are appropriate for you personally.
Scholarships, bursaries and discounts
Most universities offer scholarships based on academic merit, and some offer bursaries based on financial need. The scholarships can be expected to fully or partly offset the cost of the course.
BPP University Law School, for example, offers several different scholarships:
- BTC application scholarships: depending on your submission date, you will be eligible for a BTC scholarship worth £1,000. Since the scholarship is based on your application and video, you won’t have to submit a separate application—you will automatically be considered.
- BTC Excellence Scholarships are available to applicants who have demonstrated academic merit by attaining a 1st class honors degree.
- BTC Advocacy Scholarships are available for those whose video applications are particularly persuasive and articulate.
There is nothing atypical about BPP and the University of Law—other institutions also offer various types of scholarships. The four Inns of Court, for example, offer a cumulative total of millions of pounds in awards every year.
Charities and grant-making trusts
Some nonprofit organisations provide financial aid to students. For details, email the Education Grants Advisory Service at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Putting It All Together
You may not find it possible to finance all of your studies from a single source. Instead, you may need to combine several sources of funding—loans, scholarships and personal savings, for example.