Ask and ye shall receive. Anon left what appears below as a comment on the previous post. But given that s/he has responded quickly, bravely and comprehensively, I post it so it can be given proper prominence.
“I think your post raises a number of issues; I can’t hope to cover all of them in 1 reply, so I’ll deal with the principal ones for the time being. I’ll nail my colours to the mast and admit that I’m linked to one Provider (a very good one at that) and that I’ve posted a number of times on your Blog. Apologies, therefore, if I repeat points I’ve already made.
1). The idea that (all?) BVC Providers are engaged in extortion is, in my view, offensive. As I’ve said before, the level of fees is driven by the demands of the Bar Council in terms of resources, the fact that the Course is a true cost course (not “subsidised” by HEFCE) and the fact that, like it or not, Tutors with real practical experience (and we have some who sit as Deputy DJ’s etc.) don’t come cheap.
The figures in respect of BVC places versus pupillages aren’t hidden and anyone with a genuine commitment to the profession should be able to carry out their own research. No Provider forces students onto its Course – in fact we turn away more than three quarters of those who apply.
2). The idea that you can spot an Outstanding student on day 1 is, in my view, outlandish and smacks of a colouring of judgment or a self-fulfilling prophecy. There are 13 Assessment points on the BVC, the overall grade of Outstanding requiring 8 awards of Oustanding in individual assessments or an aggregate of 85%. Given that many students will have no experience of the vast majority of skills / subjects taught, it would be impossible to identify an “all-rounder” at this early stage.
3). Some Providers hand out awards of Outstanding and Very Competent like Smarties, potentially undermining other Providers’ efforts. Fortunately we can rely on our reputation but it does make one wonder whether some students simply look for the “easy” Course.
4). We should ask ourselves why the BSB doesn’t police Providers’ validated numbers more rigorously / at all. Allowing certain Providers to routinely exceed their numbers distorts the market and may very well have consequences in respect of student quality / satisfaction.
5). We score every application in respect of A levels, degree expected / attained, mini pupillages undertaken, experience of contested advocacy / public speaking etc. Convince me that an admissions test would better this and please explain your barrister sift to a barrister of >15 years’ call – is it an interview, is it by committee or by 1 individual, what criteria would be employed etc.
Does this kickstart your debate?”
To answer the last question: Yes. Thank you.
I shall deal with the sift when I’m not doing an opening in a particularly unpleasant cruelty case, whilst simultaneously preparing to cross-examine 4 medical experts in a second case and trying to sort out a strike-out application in a third. Of course, like all barristers, when I’m not that busy I panic that no one wants me. Chambers is used to it.