THE University of Macau has inaugurated a Master of Law degree programme to train higher-qualified legal professionals for the transition period and beyond the 1999 Chinese administration. The two-year programme is the first in a series to be introduced by the university in response to changes and growth initiated by the Macau Government which turned it into a public institution in 1991. The new law programme offers two options: Juridical Sciences and Juridical-Political Sciences. Both contain one compulsory Chinese Law course, Chinese Private Law and Chinese Constitutional Law respectively, to prepare graduates for social and professional integration after 1999. The two Chinese Law courses are taught by Chinese professors, in Chinese, with translation. Similar to its five-year Licenciatura [Bachelor] of Law, the university's masters programme is taught in Portuguese, the mother language of the Macau legal system which is linked with Portuguese law, and which will retain its position for 50 years under the Sino-Portuguese Joint Declaration. 'It is important to know Chinese law because Macau will come under Chinese sovereignty. The area of Juridical-Political Sciences, for instance, will involve understanding of the Basic Law which is part of China's constitutional law,' said Professor Manuel Escovar Trigo of the Faculty of Law. He added that increasing joint ventures between Macau and China also meant lawyers needed to handle Chinese economic regulations. At present the programme has 26 students altogether, of which four, bilingual in Chinese and Portuguese, are from China. The university is seeking to develop academic exchanges with overseas law schools in Portugal and China. They include Coimbra University in Portugal, China's Beijing University, the Peoples' University, Zhongshan, and Shenzhen University. Links are also being forged with the University of Hong Kong. Professor Peter Wesley-Smith, dean of Hong Kong University's Faculty of Law, said both sides were looking at a cross-fertilisation of ideas in international law and legal theory. The expansion of the law faculty is in line with an upsurge in the number of students coming into the university since 1991. There has been a rise of 36 per cent to the present enrolment of 2,775. To accommodate such growth, the institution is also undertaking a physical expansion of the campus. Before next year, the university will inaugurate a new and improved sports complex constructed on an old facility site. The Luso-Chinese Building, which will provide additional teaching space, is expected to be ready by mid-1995.