High-performing students across all Singapore Junior Colleges and Millennia Institute keen to study law to be shortlisted in pilot initiative; Smoother pathway for students in other disciplines to pursue law.
This year, more students aspiring to read law at the National University of Singapore will get the opportunity to be considered for a place at the Faculty of Law (NUS Law). The move to cast the net wider, seeking a larger and more diverse pool of prospective students for admission to NUS Law, is part of an ongoing effort to transform legal education.
In this pilot initiative, NUS Law will expand the pool of shortlisted applicants to be considered for admission to its Bachelor of Laws (LLB) honours programme for Academic Year 2021/2022. Candidates whose achievements put them in the top five per cent of students at any of Singapore’s junior colleges and Millennia Institute, based on their GCE ‘A’ Level results, International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma or equivalent, will be eligible for shortlisting to sit for the written test and interview.
In order to qualify to be shortlisted, applicants will need to place Law as their first choice in their applications to NUS. If shortlisted, they will go through the same rigorous selection process as other candidates. Their performance at the written test and interview, together with academic qualifications and other achievements, will determine their admission to NUS Law.
These candidates will be in addition to those shortlisted through the regular admissions process, which identifies candidates based on their academic scores as well as through the discretionary admissions policy recognising excellence in areas other than academic grades.
Currently, around 2,000 candidates apply to NUS Law’s LLB programme each year, with about 800 shortlisted for the written test and interview. This pilot admissions initiative is expected to add about 50 more shortlisted applicants, coming in particular from schools with lower representation in NUS Law. It will enable NUS Law to meet a wider pool of candidates and select the strongest and most deserving from among them — including those who demonstrate a deep passion for the law — to join its annual intake of about 240 students.
Professor Simon Chesterman, Dean of NUS Law, said, “Inclusion and diversity in the student population does not only benefit those who earn a place in law school. It also benefits the entire cohort, by better reflecting the diversity of society as a whole and ensuring that diverse voices and perspectives are present in the classroom – as they are in life.”
Smoother transition to law for ‘inflight’ students
At the same time, NUS Law is also allowing NUS undergraduates from other faculties and schools, who apply for transfer into the Faculty in their second year and who meet the Law admission requirements, to complete the LLB programme within four years. These students would have completed their first year of studies in another course of study and achieved exceptional grades. Academic credits gained in the first year will be recognised as non-law electives or a minor, contributing to the requirements for graduation.
In October 2020, the Faculty also launched a new Juris Doctor (JD) programme to replace its Graduate LLB. The JD programme, which admits its first cohort of students in August 2021, is a three-year programme for candidates holding a non-law degree, which may also be accelerated in 2.5 years based on strong results in the first year. International candidates who wish to practise law in Singapore and already have a basic law degree, may be able to complete the programme in two years.
Prof Chesterman said, “These initiatives are part of a continuing transformation in legal education at NUS Law. As Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon and others have emphasised, we need more diverse pathways to admission to the Singapore Bar. Law firms of the future will require a range of people with legal skills – in particular, combining those skills with technological and business sensibilities. We are therefore also making it easier for students to transfer into law, to deepen their non-law skills, or to come to law after completing another degree. This will enrich the legal ecosystem both at law school and when they enter the profession.”
Continuing transformation in legal education
The NUS Law LLB programme is a four-year honours programme and students must complete a minimum total of 160 academic credits. In addition to a comprehensive repertoire of compulsory law modules, NUS Law students also have access to more than 100 elective subjects in fields ranging from international arbitration to maritime law, and from financial services law to the law of artificial intelligence. Many of these modules integrate cross-disciplinary and policy perspectives to give students a deep and rich understanding of how the law operates within society and the factors that influence its development and application. These subjects are taught by resident faculty as well as adjuncts and international visitors from leading institutions around the world, including Oxford, Yale, and Tsinghua University.
In recent years, as part of the continuing transformation of the legal education, NUS Law has offered more technology-related modules. More than half of its undergraduate cohort read at least one “law and technology” elective, including IT Law, Biotechnology Law, Privacy & Data Protection Law, and Artificial Intelligence, Information Science & Law. NUS Law students are also encouraged to read other non-law modules – in computer science, information systems, business analytics, new media, economics and accounting – which will benefit them in their future professional legal practice.