The Council on Higher Education (CHE) released the findings of its National Review of the Bachelor of Laws (LLB) qualification in a report on 12 April 2017. The review process started in 2012.
The aim of the review was to develop a qualification standard for LLB programmes. It found that 13 of the 17 universities that offer the programme met the required standard. The four universities that did not meet the required standard had issues with their LLB programme that needed serious attention, which has put them at risk of losing their accreditation.
UCT is among the universities that have been re-accredited after addressing only minor issues with their courses.
Professor Penny Andrews, UCT’s dean of law, said, “Although not attaining a perfect score, we are very pleased that we have been re-accredited with only minor short-term modifications. These modifications include the areas we identified, notably, the success rate of our students and greater coordination of our curriculum, particularly in relation to integrated leadership and supervision.”
In October 2016, all law faculties were required to submit a report on the progress they have made with regard to the issues raised in their individual reports, as well as their overall plans for the future.
Although the review was generated by concerns raised by the legal profession regarding the role of law faculties in adequately preparing law graduates to enter the legal profession, after consultation with the South African Law Deans’ Association, the review provided a timely and welcome exercise of self-reflection on the part of law faculties.
The review covered a range of substantial issues such as transformative constitutionalism and responsiveness to social justice. It also focused on the teaching of ethics across the entire programme of legal education and especially how ethics is inculcated into law student learning and professional development.
“The good thing is that we identified these concerns as priorities even before the CHE review was undertaken. We were also commended on several points, including library and elearning resources, our range of electives and the number of non-law subjects included in the degree,” said Andrews.
The review process included site teams visiting all of South Africa’s law faculties to gather facts on the ground and to confirm the information provided in the self-evaluation reports submitted by each faculty.
UCT’s Faculty of Law found the review process a helpful exercise for honest reappraisal. The faculty proactively identified the need to address four priority action areas for the future in a self-evaluation report. These were:
“We are committed to ensuring that our individual and collective endeavours continue to lead to equity and excellence. The challenge is translating our commitment into reality,” concluded Andrews.
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