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EDITORIAL – Insularity again?

marciadottin, [email protected]

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In the past week an advertisement has appeared in some sections of the local Press, in which the St Augustine Campus of the University of the West Indies has advertised for no less than four lecturers in the Faculty of Law.
In and of itself this might not be an alarming thing, but the subjects which that campus desires its applicants to offer include real property, administrative law, human rights law and equitable remedies, among others. These subject areas are taught in the second year of the LLB degree course of the university and have not hitherto been taught at the St Augustine campus, but at the Cave Hill Campus, which except for The Bahamas, had the sole mandate to offer second and third year courses.
Concurrently there is another advertisement running in the Jamaica Press, in which the Mona Campus is also advertising for lecturers in subject areas that are part and parcel of the second and third year courses of the degree.
When the Faculty of Law was established in the late 1960s, the decision was taken then to allow first year teaching of law in Barbados, Trinidad and Jamaica, with second and third year courses being taught only at Barbados where the faculty was headquartered.
The professional courses necessary for admission to practise law were originally taught only at professional law schools located in Trinidad and Jamaica, but some law teaching was later done at the Bahamas in both the degree and professional courses.
In the last two years there has been a decision taken by the authorities in Jamaica to establish facilities for teaching all three years of the LLB course in Jamaica; and the first group of year two students (under this scheme) have just taken their examinations at Mona, and in the meantime the Cave Hill Campus has continued its full course of teaching.  
The first seeds of fragmentation of the faculty have therefore been sown, for two campuses are now engaged in the process of teaching for the full degree course, and the import of the advertisements by the St Augustine Campus suggests that Trinidad is also following through on its promise of establishing its own course for the teaching the full programme of the LLB degree.
It is difficult not to wonder whether a further fragmentation of the law faculty in underway. The resources both physical and financial committed to the faculty of law at Cave Hill has enabled the development of a high class teaching and research capability; and the output of graduates of the highest quality able to hold their own, and often outperform  their peers in the international arena where students compete in argument and research of the law.
Fragmentation of the regional resources among three campuses each of which is committing itself to the teaching of the full three-year LLB degree is unlikely to enhance the delivery and continued excellence of law teaching, and the financial viability of the headquarters bereft of the inflow of students from T & T and Jamaica may be at risk.
The teaching of Caribbean law in the past four decades has emerged as yet another of the successful regional efforts at integration. High quality scholarship, and seminal studies in Caribbean law and the establishment of the Caribbean Court of Justice have been two of the clearest fruit produced there from; and one can only hope that the fragmentation which appears to be in process is not a harbinger of a new wave of insularity.