Change the world

26/07/2019

The Nelson Mandela University Faculty of Law launches a comprehensive publication showcasing the Faculty and providing a strategtic overview of its activities and plans. 

The Nelson Mandela University Faculty of Law, I suspect, is much more than meets the eye, and more than the sum of its parts. Distinctive without being boutique, it is focused on delivering high quality law qualifications, while making its own particular contribution to the legal landscape. This publication offers a window into some of the most recent developments pertaining to the work of the faculty. Formally speaking, the faculty contributes to the institution’s vision of being a dynamic African university, recognised for its leadership in generating cutting-edge knowledge for a sustainable future. The faculty strives at all times to maximise the practical learning possibilities for law students and boasts highly respected academic staff and committed support staff who combine to provide a top quality educational experience for law students.

By providing a solid legal education foundation, coupled with deliberate and ongoing interaction with members of the legal profession, the faculty seeks to equip graduates with the necessary attributes for a successful career in law. As a result, students graduating with a Nelson Mandela University law degree have assumed leading positions at top law firms and other businesses in South Africa and abroad and made a meaningful contribution to society.

The faculty and its students are particularly engaged in South African society. For example, our Centre for Law in Action (CLA) is a highly reputable and internationally-connected entity that focuses on improving the levels of service delivery at various governmental levels and increasing access to justice for people in need. The Labour and Social Security Law Unit (LSSLU) is nationally recognised for the training conducted by its members, particularly in the area of Labour Law, and the faculty’s Law Clinic and Refugee Rights Centre provide key services to the broader Nelson Mandela Bay area.

On the research front, the faculty is producing an increasing body of published research work in various areas of law, and a number of colleagues are in the final phase of completing doctoral qualifications. The faculty also includes a prestigious South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI) Chair in the Law of the Sea and Development in Africa and boasts NRF-rated researchers and grant-holders. The faculty hosts a Research Hub every month and endeavours in this way to provide crucial research support to all postgraduate candidates.

The work of the Faculty of Law is underpinned by the commitment of faculty staff and students to uphold the values of the Constitution and the university, including respect for diversity, excellence, ubuntu and integrity. As such, the faculty aligns itself with the promise of Service to Society that is the cornerstone of the university’s intellectual and social project. The faculty is committed to producing quality law graduates who are determined and equipped to contribute to the betterment of society. All of this work is undertaken in an environment that is conducive to teaching, learning, research and engagement, with staff and student morale seen as being crucial to attaining the desired objectives.

Staff are afforded a number of opportunities to participate in leadership or other self-improvement initiatives run by the university or Higher Education South Africa. The Faculty Management Committee works hard to ensure a fair and equitable workload that allows staff to participate in such opportunities and achieve an optimum work-life balance.

The Executive Dean, newly appointed Deputy Dean, a stable cohort of top Heads of Departments and entity leaders form the Faculty Management Committee, which is intimately involved in the efficient running of the faculty. Working with an outstanding Faculty Office and support staff team, it bodes well for a high level of administrative excellence being maintained into the future.

The recent renovations to the faculty in the Embizweni Building on the South Campus, including a new boardroom, reception area and working space for the faculty’s Postgraduate Associates (PgAs), have certainly contributed to staff and student morale. In 2019, the faculty is looking forward to breaking ground for a new wing, which will house the faculty’s Research Office, spaces for our Adjunct and Visiting Professors, and a small lecture theatre.

Linked to this is the formalisation of a number of important strategic appointments and relationships with nationally and internationally recognised legal luminaries, including distinguished judges, legal practitioners and academics. This includes colleagues with honorary doctoral degrees, Adjunct Professors, Research Associates and Professional Associates. The faculty plans to host a range of thought-leaders, including people of the calibre of Justice Mandisa Maya, Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, Professor Paul Benjamin, Mr Brent Williams and Professor Sam Adelman, for periods of residency from 2020 onwards. We have no doubt that their presence and the consequent interaction with students will inspire the next generation of legal scholars at Nelson Mandela University.

Significantly, the Faculty has also prioritised its own transformation during the past few years and has been successful in its efforts to attract and retain top black academic and support staff. As reflected on in this publication, the decision to concentrate on retaining some of the best LLB graduates for postgraduate studies by employing a cohort of PgAs for a two-year maximum period, has reaped dividends. During 2019, 22 PgAs, the vast majority being black South Africans, will contribute to the work of the faculty. This is an ongoing programme.

Following the successful accreditation of the LLB degree during 2017 (the faculty was fortunate to be one of the first three faculties that received such accreditation from the Council for Higher Education), the faculty has ensured that it remains at the forefront of curriculum development, increased the use of technology and blended learning and introduced initiatives to improve student success rates. The publication elaborates on most of these developments, and the faculty looks forward to rolling out the first year of its new LLB curriculum in 2020.

I believe that all these developments have cumulatively enhanced the reputation of the faculty and resulted in a number of other spin-offs, such as increased internationalisation opportunities for staff and students. The work of the faculty’s engagement entities and research chair has been significant in this regard, and the faculty’s involvement with the Law and Development Research Network (LDRN) has been a particular highlight, as reflected in this publication. Indeed, the faculty will be proud to host the annual LDRN International Conference in Port Elizabeth in 2020.

The corridors of the Faculty of Law are vibrant, filled with the voices of determined students and committed staff - who work tirelessly to inspire and guide students through their studies and to maximise their ability to secure good employment or start businesses where they are able to utilise their qualification and legal knowledge to contribute to addressing societal challenges. We trust that this publication will provide readers with some insights as to our efforts in this regard and look forward to engaging with all our stakeholders as we strive to meet the university’s challenge to Change the World.

Read the full publication

Contact information
Prof Avinash Govindjee
Executive Dean: Faculty of Law
Tel: 27 41 504 2676
Avinash.Govindjee@mandela.ac.za