Chair's report: Caroline Maughan
Parallel Session 1 (Chancellor’s 3)
Chair: Caroline Maughan (University of the West of England)
The first presentation outlined the ‘Tuning Project’ – an international universities’ response to the challenges of the 1999 Bologna Declaration. The project aims to identify a system of comparable degrees, graduates and professional profiles across European higher education. In legal studies the project is focusing on the definition and development of generic and subject-specific competences which are intended to improve student motivation and increase employability. Consultation with graduates, employers and academics has produced a set of competences, together with their development through student-centred learning approaches.
The presenters showed us how some of these competences have been embedded into law courses at Deusto – Constitutional law, Private International and Public International law. Their four-year degrees allow for a broad range of competences, including the ability to use a foreign language; and much of the teaching is in English. Interestingly, in response to lament from the audience on UK students’ lack of interest in Constitutional law, we were told that students educated in Spain are well-versed in constitutional history before they enter university.
The second presentation described a new system of pastoral care for law undergraduates at Queen Mary, University of London. The law department has initiated a Graduate Student Adviser support scheme which operates alongside the personal tutor and academic tutor systems. For the last three years a team of postgraduate students have offered undergraduates confidential advice on personal matters in daily three hour drop-in surgeries. The postgraduates also run workshops on essay writing, revision and exam technique. Demand for the service has been high, and feedback very positive. The postgraduates are trained and have strong links with the other support services offered by the university.
Underpinning the Graduate Student Advisor scheme is the view that excellence in higher education requires us to recognise and commit to the diversity of students’ needs and concerns. The scheme works well because it fosters relationships between postgraduate and undergraduate students. The advisers have an advantage over staff in that they may have had recent similar experiences and can empathise with the changing needs and expectations of undergraduates as they move from their first to final year.
Last Modified: 7 February 2011