BSB takes action over worst-performing Bar training course

Hertfordshire University: Working with BSB

Would-be students on last year’s worst performing Bar training course – at Hertfordshire University – cannot start it this month after the Bar Standards Board (BSB) intervened.

The regulator announced this week that it has decided to vary the university’s authorisation to deliver the course, meaning it must now defer the next intake to January 2024.

A BSB report in March on the Central Examination Board exams in civil and criminal litigation said Hertfordshire’s students had a pass rate of 23% in the former and 20% in the latter; the figures for all students in England and Wales were 56% and 50% respectively.

Last December was the first time Hertfordshire had entered candidates on the course – 13 took the civil exam and 15 the criminal. It was the first university to be approved to offer the Bar course since 1997.

In a statement, the BSB said it made its decision in the interests of students. “The university has cooperated with us and put a plan in place to strengthen a number of aspects of its course delivery to ensure that it is complying with the mandatory requirements in the authorisation framework. This decision provides time for these changes to be embedded.

“The BSB will continue to work with the university to ensure the necessary improvements are implemented to enable the Bar course to be offered in January 2024.

“Meanwhile, the university is supporting students who had enrolled on the 2023/24 course either to defer entry to the Bar course or to transfer to another provider.”

A spokeswoman from Hertfordshire University said: “We are working closely with the BSB to respond to their recommendations.

“We are proud of our focus on increasing accessibility and diversity within the profession, and we remain confident in the long-term successful delivery of our bar programmes.”

Speaking in the wake of the report in March, Penny Carey, dean of Hertfordshire Law School, told Legal Futures: “We are extremely proud that… we provide an accessible, flexible and affordable pathway into this profession that is helping the Bar to diversify.

“We always knew these first set of exams would be challenging for this group but are confident that through the high-quality teaching provided at Herts, they will reach the level required to pass them and graduate ready to begin long and successful law careers.”

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