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Reform of legal education in Belarus and the UK: the exchange of experience and vision for the future

On 28 December 2017, the Ostrogorski Centre in cooperation with the Faculty of Law of the Belarusian State University with the support of the Embassy of the United Kingdom in Minsk conducted a conference “Reform of legal education in Belarus...

On 28 December 2017, the Ostrogorski Centre in cooperation with the Faculty of Law of the Belarusian State University with the support of the Embassy of the United Kingdom in Minsk conducted a conference “Reform of legal education in Belarus and the UK: the exchange of experience and vision for the future”.

The conference featured 16 speakers including representatives of the British Embassy, Ministry of Education of Belarus, Belarusian State University, Hrodno State University, Brest State University, legal academics and administrators as well as practitioners from Belarus. In addition, three speakers came from UK-based institutions – the British Institute of International and Comparative Law, London School of Economics and Political Science and the University of Liverpool.

The guests of the conference included representatives of government bodies, academics of public and private universities a well as representatives of Belarusian NGOs (around 40 people in total).

The conference became an opportunity not only to share the experience of Belarus-based and UK-based academics but also help shape the debate on legal education reform in Belarus.

The conference was broadcasted live on YouTube and Facebook, and videos of each panel are now available on the Ostrogorski Centre YouTube channel as well as below. The conference languages were Belarusian and Russian.

Introduction panel

  • Siarhei Balashenka, Dean of the Faculty of Law of the Belarusian State University.
  • Siarhei Kaspiarovich, Head of the Department of Higher Education of the Ministry of Education of Belarus.
  • Siarhei Khodzin, Vice-Rector on Learning of the Belarusian State University.
  • Yaraslau Kryvoi, Senior Research Fellow at the British Institute of International and Comparative Law and founder of the Ostrogorski Centre.

The introduction session focused on the importance of having an open exchange of experience between educators in Belarus and the United Kingdom. The representative of the Ministry of Education Siarhei Kaspiarovich highlighted the need for practice-oriented education and understanding better the experience of the United Kingdom. He drew the attention of participants to the concept of reform of legal education, the edition of the Education Code with the two-level education system based on the bachelor and master degrees.


Panel 1. The organisation of the educational process

  • Kanstantsin Dzehtsiarou, Senior Lecturer at the University of Liverpool.
  • Alena Hryharovich, Dean of the Law Faculty of the Brest State University.
  • Viktar Kamiankou, Head of Department of Financial Law and Legal Regulation of Economic Activities at the Law Faculty of the Belarusian State University.

The participants of the first session discussed the differences between the educational systems in Belarus and the United Kingdom, in particular when it comes to research activities of academics, the use of technologies and the structure of the curriculum.


Panel 2. Legal education and professional skills

  • Alexander Khraputski, partner of the law firm Sysuev, Bondar & Khraputski.
  • Roman Morozov, researcher at the London School of Economics.
  • Irina Esmantovich, Dean of the Law Faculty of Homel State University.
  • Victoria Shylko, Head of Educational Laboratory “Legal Clinic” at the Law of the Belarusian State University, Lecturer at the Law Faculty of the Belarusian State University.

The speakers discussed how to narrow the gap between legal education and legal practice. A leading practitioner explained that graduates miss many practical skills required in the workplace and how this problem can be addressed.  Legal educators focused on the use of legal clinics and internships which help students gain practical skills.  An interesting discussion resulted from comparing approaches to career building at the London School of Economics and Belarusian universities.


Panel 3. International cooperation in the field of legal education.

  • Andrei Kozik, Chairman of the International Law i Arbitration Association (BILA Association).
  • Daria Lando, Associate Professor at the Department of Civil of the Law Faculty of the Belarusian State University.
  • Vadzim Samaryn, Associate Professor at the Law Faculty of the Belarusian State University faculty of BSU.
  • Yaraslau Kryvoi, Senior Research Fellow at the British Institute of International and Comparative Law, founder of the OStrogorski Centre.

The participants focused on mobility of academics and students, joint projects and funding for such projects as well as the organisation of international conferences. They paid a special attention to the Concept of Reform of Legal Education prepared by the Ministry of Education as well as to overcoming bureaucratic hurdles when implementing donor-sponsored international projects in Belarus.

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