In the heart of the one of Africa’s most vibrant nations lies the city of Bloemfontein. Known as “the city of roses”, this unassuming city is at the forefront of legal practice in South Africa. As the country’s judicial capital, those studying law at the University of the Free State (UFS) benefit from a legal environment that blossoms in and outside of the campus confines.
Law students here are privileged to be taught by some of the best legal minds in the country. Earlier this year, Professor Caroline Nicholson, Dean of the Faculty of Law, was appointed to serve in the Free State’s High Court for a second year and is the perfect embodiment of the high-calibre of lecturers in a faculty that “boasts many of South Africa’s most illustrious jurists among its alumni. It is a vibrant, dynamic and exciting faculty staffed by enthusiastic, young experts, dedicated to legal education and training in South Africa”, according to the Dean.
This world-class faculty is guided by a clear and simple vision to provide ‘…internationally recognised education and achievements of the students and staff, to both maintain and expand the national and regional perspective in order to maintain its operations and to contribute to the reconstruction and development of the entire community…’ and to ‘…promote and educate righteousness and conscious jurisprudence’.
This ethos rings true to the school’s dedication to providing students with not only deep understanding subject by subject, but also a broad range of specialist options that allows them to follow their passions in a particular field of interest.
Arguably one of the most exciting developments at the school is the introduction of the new Interdisciplinary Master’s Degree in Human Rights – a brand-new course that will be offered to postgraduates from 2018. The language of Human Rights has become the moral and ethical underpinning from which arguments of common humanity and basic dignity are based. In this context, UFS has begun to cement its place as one of South Africa’s leading authorities in this area.
Students who choose the new course will begin by learning about the theoretical and practical foundations of Human Rights Law in international and national spheres before tailoring their course to their interests, with options such as religion rights, gender, political rights, and more.
As well as benefitting from studying in South Africa’s judicial capital, those who study the Masters in Human Rights will benefit even more from their proximity to the new Free State Centre for Human Rights, a space that brings together academics and students to address Human Rights as it influences national and international relations, and sets standards for political and democratic practice.
Another of the fantastic courses on offer is the Postgraduate Diploma in Labour Law, providing aspirant Labour Law specialists in an arena in that hones their skills in dispute resolution and conflict management surrounding industrial relations. By giving students in-depth knowledge of the various facets of Labour Law in South Africa, this course helps students become CCMA Commissioners and Bargaining Council Panellists, and is perfect for human resources officers and trade unionists.
The School for Financial Planning Law (SFPL) is an institution within the Faculty of Law that prides itself on producing talented financial planners. The SFPL aims to balance student satisfaction and high academic standards, and does so through a portfolio of courses made up of a Postgraduate Diploma, four comprehensive Diplomas in specialised fields, an LLM in Financial Planning Law and an Advanced Diploma in Estate and Trust Administration.
All courses offered by the SFPL teach students how to identify the needs and goals of a client and how to achieve them. Students will learn how to plan and prepare on a month by month basis, as well as how to manage financial risk and opportunity, for both corporate and private settings. Here, students undertake diplomas that give them expert knowledge in niche areas, such as: Personal Financial Risk Management, Investment Planning and Employee Benefits.
The Advanced Diploma in Estate and Trust Administration arms students with the qualifications and skills needed to provide advice on a range of financial activities including administration of trusts, estate planning, administration of deceased estates, drafting of wills and legislative issues surrounding the fiduciary services industry. This course is the only one in South Africa to be approved by the FISA, allowing those who complete the course to be automatically awarded two of the four criteria for being FPSA accredited.
UFS has seen its international standing grow and grow, and that’s in so small part due to a concentrated effort by the faculty to raise the profile of the school. As the Dean explains, “The faculty has embarked upon an active campaign to strengthen its regional and international ties. To this end, opportunities will be sought to facilitate ever greater exchange of expertise and ideas across state lines, with a view to enhancing its international profile and enriching its programmes.”
This effort has given the Faculty of Law exciting new links with international institutions. One of these links is with the International Association of Women Judges, who co-operated with the faculty again to host its annual gala dinner in the beginning of this year. This organisation seeks to bring to the fore new ventures of involvement of women judges in an advisory capacity and sharing of expertise, and is emblematic of the kind of partnerships the faculty hopes to form.
The University of the Free State has a fantastic range of options for postgraduates looking to develop in the law profession. As the intellectual home of much of South Africa’s best legal minds and situated at the forefront of legal practice in the country, the University of the Free State is a fantastic choice for anyone wishing to further their studies in a unique African environment.