Session 6

Advancing education beyond the audit; preparing students for life choices in the age of neoliberalism.
Susan Scott-Hunt, Associate Professor in Law, Middlesex University London
Renu Barton-Hanson, Acting Direcot of Programmes for Law, Middlesex University London
Dr Elvira Domínguez-Redondo, Associate Professor, Middlesex University London
Dr Maureen Spencer, Associate Professor in Law, Middlesex University
The symposium outlines causes of tension between academics and government including  the TEF. There are fears that that micro measurement of teaching through proxy metrics eclipses the transformatory nature of higher education. We  give instances of how, despite official attempts to impose corporate values, individual academics have capacity to resist.

Session summary:
The symposium outlines the impact of current government policy in micro-managing academic legal practice. A range of factors drives policy, including seismic shifts in the market for legal services caused by emerging technologies and globalization and a distrust of the perceived monopolistic effects on consumers of legal professions’ quasi-self-regulation. Increased competition and uncertainly exacerbate this student generation’s instrumentalism rather than  fostering  expectations of a transformative educational experience.  Responding to these challenges, we present three examples of academic agency and autonomy enhancing the emancipatory nature of student learning in the Law Department.

One  example of academic challenge to this neo-liberal agenda is Clinical Legal Education (CLE), encompassing both curricular and extra- curricular arrangements. We are integrating legal skills into the law curriculum, both within existing modules and by creating new ‘practical’ law modules.  We have set up  pro bono law clinics which are supervised by lawyers and staffed by trained law students. We systematically help law students find legal work experience. Our students participate in national and regional legal skills competitions and we, we work with other law schools and organisations whose aim is to encourage more diversity in legal sector employment. These efforts are complex, resource-intensive and compete with other important priorities, but there is a general consensus that they are capable of enhancing both the intellectual growth of individual law students and their life prospects.

Our second example is Inter-Professional Education (IPE) which may be defined as occasions when students of two or more professions learn with, from and about each other to improve collaboration and the quality of care and services.  IPE has been found to enhance collaborative practice as well as improve understanding of other professional roles in practice.  Research suggests that adapting Inter-Professional Education to show ‘reality of practice’ and ‘authenticity’ for specific groups of learners leads to beneficial results. 

Our third example is the introduction of peer-assessment in a postgraduate module (LLM) to support students’ learning in Hendon and Mauritius. Drawing on previous research and using software available through MyUnihub, this experience attempts to incorporate the benefits associated with  peer-assessment in promoting self-assessment and a better understanding of marking and grading criteria among students.

The presentation, which will include participants’ involvement in practical examples of sessions  in these areas, contributes to two Conference streams, namely ‘Reviewing/unpacking policy’ and ‘Employability in the hourglass: preparing students for lifelong employability’.