In addition to completing an undergraduate degree, aspiring barristers will also need to do the Bar Professional Training Course, which, if undertaken on a full time basis, is an additional year of study that equips students with the knowledge and skills needed to practise. Those of you who choose to do a non-law degree will need to do a conversion course called the Graduate Diploma in Law before the BPTC.
Studying to become a barrister can be expensive: studying the GDL costs up to £10,000 and the BPTC, up to £19,500, but there are a number of funding options available that may help you manage the expense.
Inns of Court Scholarships
Your first port of call should be the Inns of Court who offer the opportunity to apply for scholarships. For the academic year 2015/16 the Inner Temple set aside £1,655,625 for this purpose, with the majority of that money allocated to the BPTC. Scholarship award winners are judged first and foremost on merit, with financial means being taken into account only once it has been confirmed that they have earned a scholarship. However, the Inn offers several named awards to the best candidates and these awards are not means-tested. Take a look at the Inner Temple’s main website for additional information.
While some Inns choose to shortlist, we will invite every eligible candidate to interview. Candidates will need to apply for a BPTC scholarship by the first Friday in November, the year before they start the course.
For the GDL, generous funding is also available. Just like the BPTC, awards are based on merit with financial circumstances being considered afterwards.
The Inner Temple operates a Guaranteed Funding Scheme, which means that those who succeed in gaining a GDL award are guaranteed to receive at least the same sum of money for the BPTC without having to interview, although they are welcome to apply for a larger sum through the BPTC scholarships process. Applications for GDL scholarships need to be submitted by the first Friday in May, the year that you intend to start the course.
Take a look at the websites of the three other Inns of Court for details of their scholarship provision. Since you can only apply to one Inn for a scholarship in an academic year, it is important to research and visit all four to get a feel for the atmosphere and most importantly to find out about their scholarship and educational programmes.
Additional Sources of Funding
• Funding via your GDL/BPTC provider: the university or college that delivers your course might be able to advise you on how to fund your studies. For example, the University of Law is currently working in collaboration with Metro Bank, to provide professional loans for the GDL and BPTC, subject to criteria. Most importantly, providers will award their own scholarships, which you should research well in advance to ensure that you are aware of their criteria and deadlines.
• High street loans: high street banks may be willing to approve loans to cover the GDL and/or BPTC. Having said that, it is important to research the best deal and to explore all other options before taking this route, since rates of interest can be incredibly high.
• Save in advance: you don’t need to be in a rush to complete the GDL or BPTC. Working to save towards the cost of studying is a great way to generate the cash you need and to gain transferable skills. If you are able to work in the legal sector, perhaps as a legal researcher or paralegal, you have the added bonus of continuing to build relevant legal experience while earning money.
• Various competitions: a range of essay writing competitions take place annually typically prizes ranging from around £200-£5000. These sums of money will not cover all of your studies but will help towards some of your expenses. Entering the competition, whether you win or not, will be a brilliant thing to include on your CV.