It gives me great pleasure in my role as Dean and Head of School to welcome you to the Faculty of Law at the University of Tasmania. The University of Tasmania Faculty of Law is the fourth oldest Law School in Australia. The Law School was founded in 1893. It has had a proud tradition since that time and is now an internationally recognised Law Faculty with a world class ranking.
There are a number of reasons why we think students make a very good choice to study Law at the University of Tasmania. We have a very fine academic program with a deep and abiding commitment to excellence in legal education. The Law Faculty offers a contemporary undergraduate law curriculum tailored to the global environment, and encourages student commitment to social justice and community service. A number of our teaching staff have received recognition for their excellence in teaching through University as well as national awards. The Law Faculty is highly active in research and includes a strong postgraduate program. The Faculty provides a supportive, vibrant, and collegiate environment, rich in diversity, promoting a high performance culture for students and staff, and is widely perceived as an appealing place to work and study. In addition to academic excellence, we also believe that we can offer the students a very special experience.
Firstly, our Law School is smaller than many other faculties on the mainland. We have the great advantage of being within walking distance of the city with beautiful views over the river Derwent and nestled at the base of the striking Mount Wellington. Hobart is also a very accessible and friendly community.
The second special quality which we have is that due to our smaller size, we offer more of a boutique and inclusive learning experience in which strong staff-student relationships can be cultivated. There is also a strong network and sense of community amongst the students, spearheaded by the student body TULS (Tasmanian University Law Society). There has been a very strong tradition of staff and students working together, taking a view that we are all striving for a common goal and take great pride in the success of students. This is also borne out by the excellent relationship that the Faculty and its staff have with the TULS and its executive.
The third thing is that we have tried very hard to make sure that the facilities are of a high standard. We have invested in our Law Library, and we have good systems of communications and computing that help to make sure that students are part of the international community of legal education and research. We believe that students should be active learners and they have to be reflective learners. And in that way, we are in fact encouraging them in many of the programs to become involved in the research, preparation, and presentation of material and actually becoming active learners. These skills are generic. It does not matter whether or not you are going to become a practising lawyer - you still have to work with clients, work with people, convey that sense of confidence that you can solve the problems presented, and we believe it is better to start learning that here with the support of some very talented staff.
Another special feature of the UTAS Law Faculty is that being the only University in the State, we are privileged to have tremendous support from the legal profession, judiciary and magistracy for practical skills training, for our mooting program, and assisting in judging competitions and selecting teams for participation in national competitions. It also means that when our students become involved with the presentation of legal arguments in their moots, they have the privilege of using the Supreme Court facilities.
A further significant component of our law degree is the attention given to community service, both by our students and staff. A noteworthy aspect of law is its capacity to achieve social justice objectives. Law is principally about service to the community and we try to instil that from the day that our students begin with us. That means that we try to encourage our students to become involved in the community. For example, many students are involved with the community legal centres or other community organisations. There are also opportunities through the Faculty, such as working with the Student Legal Service or undertaking the Mental Health Tribunal Advocacy Training. Another unique feature is that the State's law reform body, the Tasmanian Law Reform Institute, comprises part of the Law Faculty. This provides an opportunity for a number of our academic scholars and some later-year students to work on community law reform projects. The Tasmanian Law Reform Institute is a collaboration between the government, the Law Society, and the Faculty.
Another aspect of UTAS Law to be acknowledged are the opportunities for a fabulous social life and diversified student experience. TULS looks after all of the social events but it has expanded its role so that it now sits on university committees such as Faculty Teaching and Learning. They organise community outreach. They do the annual magazine. They produce a Careers Guide as a resource for students. They are an incredibly special group. That tradition has carried on into a whole series of organised social events which are the highlight of the year. They are supported by the staff and the students and when the students that have been with us leave, they feel that they have had a great social life and have been part of a real community.
We also have a strong tradition of welcoming international students from different parts of the world. The University has welcomed students from the Pacific region since after the Second World War. We also have a long history of receiving students from other countries including Singapore, Malaysia, China, and Korea. All of our international students have the benefit of an award winning program called the International Student Support Program (ISSP) that not only looks after their academic needs, but also the pastoral care of those students.
Also of note are our international exchange programs with universities around the world that offer opportunities for a semester of study including in Switzerland, Germany, Canada, Denmark, United States, and the Czech Republic. This offers an exciting opportunity for students who wish to spend some time overseas, and study at one of our partner universities. We also regularly welcome international exchange students who come to study with us for a semester or so.
In short, we have great pride in our Law Faculty and believe we can offer students an enriching and memorable experience. A great many of our graduates have secured high powered positions nationally and overseas and comprise part of our close alumni network. For those students joining us this year, we extend a particularly warm welcome and welcome back all our other students. For prospective students contemplating undertaking your Law studies with us, please feel free to get in touch to discuss.
Professor Margaret Otlowski
Dean and Head of School
Authorised by the Dean, Faculty of Law
5 December, 2012