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Guo Li on PKU Law School Educational Reforms

NOV . 10 2016
Peking University, October 27, 2016: Educating students in accordance with their aptitude and developing in a steady pace--the intensification of professional degree postgraduate educational reforms in Law School, Peking University.
Editor’s notes: With rapid socio-economic advancements, our nation’s demands for talents become more and more diversified, and the cultivation of talents with advanced degrees turn to be the focus drawing the whole society’s attention. On this subject, Graduate School of Peking University (PKU) interviewed Professor Guo Li over the educational reforms ofprofessional degree postgraduatein Law School.
Introduction of interviewee: Guo Li, Doctor of Judicial Science, a postdoctoral scholar in economics, and a professor in Law School, PKU. His major fields of research: economic laws, international economic laws, the comparison of systems and the interdisciplinary research between laws and finance.

Question (Q): Can you introduce the development process of Juris Master specialty degree education
J.M.in PKU? Which policies or events do you suppose are of monumental significance towards the development ofJ.M.?
Guo Li (G):After twenty years’ development, J.M. has transferred from focusing on cultivating part-time jurum masters at its early age to beginning recruiting graduates with bachelor degrees, and to ultimately deepening educational reforms bysetting up J.M., which has made far-reaching and continuous advancements under the instruction of the following policies:
(1)  Take the lead in carrying out Dual tutorial system.
(2)  First cultivate students in diverse directions.
(3)  First put the recommendation system into practice.
(4)  Ameliorate the contents of entrance examination.
(5)  First include professional practiceinto the system of cultivation and set up special rules as regulation correspondingly.
(6)  First inauguratingadvanced Practical courses.
(7)  Open up a series of case study courses.
(8)  Deepen the curriculum reform steadily.
Q: Since law school has formed a cultivation system in professional degree education, do you possess any experience to share with other institutes?
G: Every discipline has its characteristics. The professional degree education of J.M. gains its achievements and influence owing to the advantage of being chosen as the first batch of pilotand its thick historical atmosphere; at the same time, relying on the mode of endogenous development and creative innovations of cultivation, a favorable tendency of continuous development is thus ensured. Besides, in the course of deepening educational reforms, it is a requisite to increase the quality of student recourses, enhance the values of schoolings, to reinforce the fundamentals of laws, and to strengthen the capacity of practical operation. Above all, every school should seek for more possibilities to make progress by conforming to the objective laws on the basis of its current situation and hard data.
Q: Three years for non-law college majors, yet two years for law college majors—law school shows distinctive features in the length of schooling. Out of what kind of consideration this arrangement has been made?
G: This design is based on the principle of observing objective laws of education--educating students in accordance with their aptitude. Considering their diverse background and training experiences, professional degree education should vary its emphasis correspondingly. For non-law college majors,a year’s training of compulsory courses in Fundamentals of Law helps them to grasp the basic principles and kernel knowledge of laws. While for those law college majors, since they all have received the undergraduate education, they will be admitted without entrance examination and a year’s fundamental courses. Before semester commences, law college majors can decide their concrete cultivating direction according to their application of interest. In short, this design embodies our school concerns over the reality of students’ quality, the targets of cultivation, the market demand of employment, and the career development of students.
Q: Sinceprofessional degree education has strong needs for application, does law school equip students with practice tutors? How do those tutors instruct graduates with professional degrees?
G:In July 2002, to cultivate graduate students of law better, Law School took the lead in putting forward the dual-tutor system, and formally engaged part-time tutorsoff campus. Those part-time tutors take on different duties ranging from teaching, cultivating, internship, and employment, and provide the professional degree education in Law School with substantial resources and energies in terms of thesis instruction, employment guidance, and scholarships awarding.
Q: According to the spirit of the 16th file decreed by National Education Supervision Office, an assessment of professional degree education is to be carried out this year in PKU.Can youillustrate the assessment results of your school briefly and respectively?
G:Under the guidance and organization of Graduate School, Law School takes an active part in this assessment. In accordance with the index system, we carry out a further rearrangement over the comprehensive reform program, which involves the ideas of running schools, the cultivation targets, the implementation plans, the faculties, the management system, the designing of courses, the working experiences, and the degree thesis. Apart from the feats of professional degree education in J.M. PKU, the quality assurance of the J.M. project also deserves mentioning.
Q: Concerning the quality of professional degree education, what standards does the assessment system have? And which standards are of crucial significance?
G:Towards this question, different answers can be drawn out from different perspectives; it needs our joint thinking and transpositional consideration. In terms of school, it is necessary to focus on the compatibility between the system and quality of curriculum, the design of teaching methods, and the cultivating goals. The promoting and molding of students’ overall capabilities resulting from “the second class”, as well as the approval and support given by teachers—all these elements affects the cultivation outcomes.As for students, their ability of logical reasoning, their basic grasp of professional theories, their mastery degree of practical skills, the promotion room for overall professional qualities, the satisfaction of teaching effects, and the recognition of school, are all appropriate perspectives to measure and assessprofessional degree education. In the field of employment, for newly graduated students, their comprehensive qualities and abilities of continuous study, leadership, and competence are all too crucial to be overlooked.
Q: What kind of challenges does law school encounters in professional degree education? Confronting such challenges, what is the most urgent thing law school has to undertake? Is there anything that needs further improvement? What development plans does Law School have for professional degree education in the future?
G:At present, the degree programs and the substantial adjustments of student structure bring new tasks and challenges. To analyze it further, faced withsocio-economic transformation, our school has to incessantly bring forth the new through the old in special courses, which represent the frontier domains in subjects’ future development. In the course of curriculum reform, the legal writing courses need further systematization andinstitutionalization.Generally speaking, to rank top in Asia, our school needs to consider how to balance the size of faculties and the increasingly abundant courses, and how to promote simultaneously the norms of system and the qualities of teachers. At present, the most urgent problem remains to beaddressed is the structure of faculties. As to this problem, our school is making great efforts to reorganize the structure and promote further advancementsby importation and transformation.
Q: What is the relationship between professional degree education and scientific degree education in PKU? And how to achieve harmonious development between the two kinds of education?
G:As the top-notch institution of higher education in China, PKU ought to take scientific education as its keystone. At the same time, we also recognize the significant role some professional degrees play in serving community recently. Instead of contradicting with each other, professional degree education and scientific degree education can achieve a kind of harmony at a higher level. Our school can select severaldepartments, which have solid foundation and good cultivating results, to lay greater supports.
Q: Where lies the breaking point of reforming professional degree education? And what is the most urgent thing to handle with?
G: PKU’s advantages lies in its ability to combine professional education and liberal education. Speaking of comprehensive reform, take the reform of professional degree thesis as an example, the writing of academic paper is not qualified enough to measure whether students reach the targets and possess corresponding practical abilities. In recent years, Law School tries to implement the writing training in all aspects of cultivation. In consequence, it is hard for a single institute or school to carry through the reform of professional degree thesis, and it needs the school as a whole to converge intelligence and courage, and to call for all forces to actively push forward the educational reform.
Q: In terms of education system, how to provide necessary organizational guarantee and operating environment for professional degree education?
G:Take our practical observation and experience into consideration, the following aspects may be worth consideration:
(1)  Our school together with its functions should provide rather stable and reasonable policies as guidance.
(2)  The functions should stay relatively independent and collaborate efficiently.
(3)  Increase the elasticity of tuition and reorganize the reward system.
(4)  Stick to the standards of equal stress on morality and capability, and respect the actual need of setting up faculties.
Written by: Wei Yunqi
Edited by: Xiao Yunyun
Source: Graduate School