law still popular choice

Law remains the most competitive career

19.01.09 pr0202.09

Final official figures released today by UCAS show that Law remained the most popular choice of subject for students starting a university place last September. The competition for a place also remains harsh however: although UCAS reports an overall rise of 10.4% in accepted applications, Law degrees only experienced a below-average 6.5% rise.

According to these latest UCAS statistic, just over 17,000 people were accepted onto a law degree last year, despite law receiving almost a quarter of all university applications (82,000). These figures come even though students face the prospect of having to struggle for many years to pay off their debts: last year the Higher Education Policy Institute said that students face average debts of up to £37,000 if ministers decide this year to go ahead with their plans to increase the level of tuition fees paid.

One of the best kept secrets of the legal profession is that there is also a vocational route to becoming a lawyer. The Institute of Legal Executives (ILEX) offers an alternative route to a career in law without having to study at university and without the resulting debt. What’s more, those who opt to study law through the ILEX vocational route are likely to have a financial head start on their graduate counterparts. ILEX students are likely to have earnt as much as £60,000 over the period of the time it takes to complete a university law degree.

“Many promising would-be lawyers don’t even make it on to a university law course, which is a loss to the profession.” said Alison Hollyer, Head of Education at ILEX. “And those that do face the prospect of leaving university with crippling debts. Not every student seeking a career in law will be lucky enough to be supported by parents or have independent means to fund their course and the decision to go to university is becoming an increasingly hard one to make.

“ILEX offers the opportunity to ‘earn and learn’ and the flexibility for study which will cover most student circumstances, whatever their background. Training does take longer, but the real-world experience and practical skills gained at the same time can prove invaluable in giving people a head start in their law career. ILEX also offers the ideal training route for those who come to a career in law later in life and have a family to support. We can even help progress the career of law graduates who are struggling to get a training contract or offer of a pupillage after graduating.”


Notes to editors:

  • A table of UCAS accepted applicants by Subject is available from the UCAS website (
  • According to a Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) report, students face average debts of up to £37,000 if ministers go-ahead with their plans to increase the tuition fees they have to pay: they say that would leave students owing around £25,000, rising to £37,000 for those borrowing the most, including those studying in London. In 2009 the Government will commission a review of the system of higher education funding and student support introduced in England in 2006 – HEPI have considered some of the implications of such a rise.
  • The Institute of Legal Executives (ILEX) is the professional and regulatory body for Legal Executives lawyers. ILEX was established in 1963 and offers an alternative route to a career in law without having to study at university and without the resulting debt. Over 80,000 people have chosen the ILEX vocational route to pursue their law studies, which culminates in a qualification equivalent to honours-degree level.
  • A recent survey by ILEX found that over a third of Legal Executive Lawyers chose the vocational route to law because they couldn’t afford to go to university (qualifying through ILEX only costs around £3,500), and a further 10% said it was because they couldn’t afford to do the post-university qualifications required to become a qualified barrister or solicitor.