Access to excellence
The University of the Free State Faculty of Law provides its students with a rich and varied educational experience, alongside access to people in the profession and networking opportunities second to none. Under the guidance of Professor Caroline Nicholson, the institution prides itself on being both progressive and inclusive.
“We are a dynamic institution and we offer high quality programmes that are very diverse,” says Nicholson. “The staff is extremely dedicated to the teaching programme and to helping students to develop their skills and grow. The senior leadership is also actively involved in developing strategies to enhance the university curriculum on an ongoing basis.”
The Faculty of Law staff is looking at the LLB curriculum in considerable detail, as they want to position the faculty as the institution of choice for those in the legal profession. To this end they have actively engaged in collaborative partnerships with members of the profession to see if the programme can be further enhanced through extracurricular activities.
“These activities will potentially add on value for our student body,” says Nicholson. “Another element of the changes to the LLB is the planned external review of our programme that will provide us with an objective assessment of what we are doing right and wrong. This will allow us to ensure that our content is relevant to the modern South African context.”
The faculty is involved in the national review of the LLB curriculum, which is set to take place in 2016 and will be examining the LLB programmes at all the tertiary institutions across South Africa. Addressing potential issues in the curriculum will allow the University of the Free State to provide insights and address specific concerns in the curriculum.
“We are also trying to increase our postgraduate capacity by encouraging our younger members to participate, and by offering a variety of postgraduate opportunities at both master’s and doctorate level,” says Nicholson. “At an institutional level the teaching and learning are always being honed and we have a unit that focuses on student support and development. A lot of support is provided to our students throughout their time here.”
The teaching and learning unit is constantly looking at ways of improving and advancing the academic programme at the university, thereby ensuring that students are always given the best possible levels of education. On the research front, there is a focus on improving the university’s research profile and there is now a plan in place to provide financial support to specific students as they pursue their postgraduate studies.
“One of the biggest attractions of our Faculty of Law is that we are positioned in the judicial capital of South Africa,” says Nicholson. “That gives our students unprecedented access to members of the judiciary, who have a very strong involvement with our faculty. At our recent inaugural lecture by Judge Malcolm Wallace of the Supreme Court of Appeals we had a veritable who’s who of judges present to hear his speech. This gave our students an opportunity to mix with the judges and to meet them on a social level.”
The Faculty of Law at the University of the Free State is well positioned to ensure its students can learn from some of the brightest and most experienced minds in the industry. It is definitely the place to be when it comes to studying law.