Partners in law

PUBLISHED : Monday, 12 December, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 12 December, 2011, 12:00am


To help cultivate the global perspective of its students, the School of Law at the City University of Hong Kong (CityU) has signed pedagogical agreements for overseas study opportunities with two leading universities.

CityU's law school and the faculty of law at the University of Vienna, in Austria, have agreed to offer a postgraduate exchange programme that will lead to a dual master's degree.

Students of both universities who are enrolled in the programme will spend one semester studying at the home university, and the remaining semester at the host university.

A memorandum of understanding has also been signed between CityU and the Columbia Law School, of Columbia University in New York.

Columbia Law School will become a partner institution of CityU's Global Legal Education and Awareness Project (G-LEAP). The tuition fees and accommodation expenses will be subsidised by CityU's law school. Its other two G-LEAP partner institutions are University College at Oxford University in Britain, and the faculty of law at Monash University in Australia.

The president of CityU, Professor Way Kuo, says the university aims to develop into a professional school with the law school as its core. 'We are also promoting international collaboration through student exchange programmes and overseas study opportunities. The joint degree with the University of Vienna provides students with the opportunity to gain experiences from both sides and immerse themselves in the distinct cultures, legal knowledge and legal practices of different communities,' Kuo says.

CityU is in the middle of a five-year strategic plan to elevate its global reputation. 'It has become well recognised in the various global rankings of higher education institutions. These exchange programmes, under the leadership of Professor Wang Guiguo, dean of CityU's School of Law, have helped to increase the recognition of the law school and make the university better known, not only in Hong Kong, but also in the Asia-Pacific region and across the world,' he adds.

The provost of CityU, Professor Arthur Ellis, believes the two agreements are emblematic of the changes taking place in local higher education. The opportunities for overseas study, such as that offered by Columbia Law School, represent another milestone, Ellis says. 'This idea of a global approach to legal education raises awareness of the fact that we are all connected.'

Ellis is confident that the dual master's degree with the University of Vienna will work seamlessly across multiple institutions for students at both universities. The agreement highlights areas such as intellectual property, for the different schools to explore together. 'At CityU, we are excited about the discovery of the enriched curriculum, which means students will make some sort of original discovery. We are inviting colleagues from around the world to come here in anticipation of the new four-year undergraduate curriculum. CityU spends resources to bring staff into the school, including graduate students and post-doctorate faculty, to help with teaching for a semester or up to a year,' says Ellis.

Wang says CityU and the University of Vienna see eye to eye on the dual postgraduate degree. The former also has a well-established link with Columbia, dating from 2007.

The president and provost of CityU have been supportive of the two agreements. 'With this sort of endorsement, my colleagues can work very hard, knowing that the leadership is behind us,' Wang notes.