On February 23, 2021, the USAID New Justice Program supported an online presentation of the results of the analysis of the impact of independent external assessment of legal education quality assurance processes conducted with USAID support in 2014-2018 on the internal and external quality assurance systems of legal education in Ukraine.
In the first place, such assessment poses a challenge for law schools themselves, when the school administration invites independent unbiased experts to objectively assess conditions for preparing prospective lawyers, judges, prosecutors, and other professionals who will secure justice and legal activities in Ukraine”, pointed out Oleksandr Pyzhov, Acting Director General of the Directorate of European Integration, Budgeting, and Policy Coordination of the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine prior to presention of the results of the impact analysis.
To make the impact analysis, the USAID New Justice Program engaged four experts in conducting external independent assessments of legal education quality assurance processes. The team included two international experts, Professor Delaine Swenson of the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin (Poland) and Professor of Practice Speedy Rice of the Washington and Lee University School of Law (USA), as well as two Ukrainian experts, Mariia Tsypiashchuk, Associate Professor of the National University “Ostroh Academy” School of Law, and Ivan Romashchenko, Associate Professor and Vice Dean for Education of the Taras Shevchenko Kyiv National University School of Law.
The team of New Justice experts cooperated with the Legal Department of Ivan Franko National University of Lviv, Legal Department of Yuriy Fedkovych Chernivtsi National University, National University “Odesa Law Academy”, and Yaroslav Mudryi National Law University.
In late 2020, the team analyzed each of these law schools’ activities and found out that the external assessment and assessment-related measures led to important changes intended to ensure that Ukrainian legal education complies with modern education standards as defined by Quality Assurance Standards in the European Higher Education Area.
The gradual transfer of Ukrainian law schools to student-centered learning and dedication to interactive teaching methodologies are positive developments that we saw in the process of assessment. Law schools should continue to develop ethics subjects and incorporate ethical components into other disciplines”, mentioned Professor Speedy Rice, one of the team’s experts.
The experts came up with the following key recommendations on further improvement of the legal education quality:
- Further promotion development of law schools that have undergone assessment, inter alia, supports the development of the mentoring culture.
- Further implementation of interactive teaching methods, specifically, under conditions of remote teaching; development of exam administration methods.
- Further assistance with the development of training in soft skills.
- Assistance with further implementation of an innovative syllabus for educating legal professionals.
- Further support of the development of legal clinics and the Association of Legal Clinics.
- Further support in implementing legal education standards.
- Development of the accreditation system of higher legal education.
As Ukraine is a part of the European area, the national legal education transfer to European standards is fair enough. Personally, I am grateful to representatives of all law schools who agreed to pioneer uneasy transfer to these standards and accepted experts’ recommendations. Although I am pretty sure there is a long way ahead of us, we have already made a start”, drew a bottom line Nataliya Petrova, USAID New Justice Program Deputy Chief of Party and extended her thanks to all the attendees for participating in the presentation and law schools that participated in the analysis for their openness and willingness to change themselves for the better.