One of the first steps to reform legal education, ensure its quality, and eradicate corruption in this sphere is to introduce external independent assessment during the enrollment to the master studies in law. The pilot project implemented last year at nine leading legal educational establishments demonstrated that this is a right approach.
This year, this experience should have been extended onto all higher educational establishments which are training would-be lawyers. To this end, the relevant working group has prepared the drafts of all necessary documents.
However, on April 25, the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine – contrary to the position of the Ministry’s working group – amended the order of the Ministry of Education and Science, whereby external independent assessment shall not apply to the higher educational establishments under the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Security Service of Ukraine, the Ministry of Defense, and the Foreign Intelligence Service. The Ministry of Justice of Ukraine approved those amendments on the very same day.
It means that the specialized higher educational establishments will continue using corruption schemes and generating graduates with diplomas but without necessary knowledge, since external independent assessment as a system of legal education control will not apply to the graduates of such institutions. And in the future these persons will become attorneys, prosecutors or judges and administer justice.
Earlier this year attempts were made to qualify the specialist field of “law enforcement activity” as higher legal education, although it has no connection whatsoever with justice. Fortunately, these attempts have failed. Otherwise, operating executives of special services, police officers, and traffic police officers would be able to become judges.
If the specialized higher educational establishments are excluded from the general system of legal education and the quality over the legal training provided is not controlled, the entire legal system will be seriously affected. Half-baked reforms in this sphere are equaled to the absence of reforms. Moreover, the said regulations of the order of the Ministry of Science and Education are obviously discriminatory and contradict the law and article 24 of the Constitution of Ukraine.
Therefore, the Reanimation Package of Reforms calls on the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Justice to ensure equal terms of enrollment to the master studies in law at all the establishments training would-be lawyers on the basis of results of external independent assessment, and not to make any exceptions for the specialized higher educational establishments or even to deprive them altogether of the right to train would-be lawyers.