Master’s program in European and International Law – Saarland UniversitySaarbrücken, Germany
Reviewed by Central Evaluation and Accreditation Agency (ZEvA)
- Valid from
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- Saarland University
The Master Program European and International Law (LLM) was assessed by ZEvA, and this assessment procedure took place within the framework of the Certificate for Quality in Internationalization project. ZEvA convened an assessment panel which studied the self- evaluation report and undertook a site visit on April 29th 2014, at Europa-Institut, Saarland University in Saarbrücken.
The Europa-Institut is built upon five pillars of which the Master ́s program is one (there are also the pillars Research, International Training Programs, International Summer Schools and Alumni). The University has its own Internationalization Strategy (http://www.uni-saarland.de/uploads/media/internationalisierungsstrategie.pdf) of which the Europa-Institut is a part and, according to the Self-evaluation report, the Master’s Program has always been a reflection of the developments in Europe and their influence on the global market. Hence, the program’s foremost goals have always been to educate students with a thorough insight into European and International law and their implication on the European and International market, as well as create a deep understanding of Europe and the European phenomenon with its students.
The program’s intended internationalization (Standard 1) is closely interlinked to these overall goals and formulated as seven goals for internationalization, which are: 1. Students gain a thorough and in-depth insight into European and International Law; 2. Students encounter an international faculty; 3. Graduates attain an individual international qualification profile; 4. International Students study in the program; 5. Graduates gain a strong international orientation and are open to other cultures; 6. Graduates are excellently prepared for the European and international job-market; 7.Students are well-versed in international, interdisciplinary academic exchange and are research-oriented and knowledgeable in the area of good research practices.
These goals are documented in various strategic papers and strongly supported by the program’s stakeholders within and outside the institution. Particularly impressive was the passionate support of these goals demonstrated by the representatives and the staff of the Institute, as well as students and alumni.
Together with the internationalization goals indicated above, clear objectives are formulated, which in the self-evaluation report are described under the same section; in the panel’s opinion this does not constitute a formal deviation but, on the contrary, demonstrates the consistency of goals and objectives in a highly convincing way. The objectives set are all verifiable and appropriate to monitor the achievement of the set goals. At the Institute, various evaluation cycles such as course evaluations, alumni feedback, etc., are in place and constantly further developed. Results are used for ￼￼improvement, as can be demonstrated through the integration of specific questions relating to international elements and aspects into the course evaluations. According to the unanimous opinion of the panel, the program in question is characterized by convincingly consistent goals and objectives for intended internationalization, which are passionately supported by internal and external stakeholders and underpinned by evaluation exercises that allow monitoring and improvement.
International and intercultural learning (Standard 2) is closely linked to the goals and objectives as set out in Standard 1. Again, the consistency and inter-linkage of goals – objectives and learning outcomes is convincing as each of them is the conditio sine qua non for the other. As far as the assessment methods and their adequacy with respect to the assessment of international and intercultural learning outcomes is concerned, the variety of methods as well as the methods themselves concur with the achievement of international and intercultural learning outcomes for the students of the program. Graduates and their professional development are not yet systematically tracked, but the information provided by the existing and very active EVER e.V. alumni network demonstrates that graduates have been successfully integrated into the European and international job market, which is an indirect demonstration of the graduates’ achievement of the international and intercultural learning outcomes.
The panel particularly appraises the demonstrated consistency of goals, objectives, learning outcomes and assessment methods, which constitute the essence of the Master program European and International Law.
Teaching and Learning (Standard 3) is strongly impregnated by the content and structure of the program which on the one hand has a clear international focus, and on the other hand allows a considerable freedom in choice of subjects according the individual student’s interest. Learning is particularly characterized by students’ interaction in a truly multi- cultural setting due to the students’ various cultural backgrounds. Teaching methods are as diverse as subjects are, yet again a special focus is always put on students’ and teachers’ interaction as a strong vehicle for the achievement of international and intercultural learning outcomes. Also the learning environment, be it international literature resources that stimulate international research, be it cultural offers intended to support integration of international students, triggers the achievement of international learning outcomes. Though professors that come to teach in the program mostly have an impressive vita, a greater variety in nationalities would even enhance the internationality of the learning environment. Further recommendations concern the language of instruction of the program.
The composition of the Staff (Standard 4) ideally caters for the needs of the program as the teaching staff is composed by well-known personalities both from academia and professional life. More than 70 lecturers coming from various fields and countries cooperate with the Institute on a regular basis and bring along subtle professional and intercultural competencies. This fact was openly appraised by students and graduates, and unanimously applauded by the panel as well. Administrative staff is equally well qualified and adequate in number in order to deal with students’ needs and problems in a highly professional way. With both groups, teaching and administrative personnel, the high commitment to the program and its internationalization goals became evident during the site visit. Services offered to all staff members are adequate and suit well the needs.
Students (Standard 5) studying in the Master program come from 39 different countries and thus constitute an international community where international and intercultural learning outcomes arise from the constant interaction of the students with their peers. Both from the documentation and the meetings with students and graduates during the site visit, a general satisfaction and appraisal of the students’ composition, their international experience and support provided to the students could be noted. Room for improvement could be seen in the implementation of a consistent tutoring system, particularly for students coming from Asian countries, and in seeking opportunities for international exposure available for all students, despite the (short) duration of the program.
To conclude, the panel has come to the unanimous decision that the Master program European and International Law of the Europa-Institut Saarbrücken has successfully implemented effective internationalization activities which demonstrably contribute to the quality of teaching and learning. The program particularly excels in the consistency of its goals and objectives, the wide range of teaching and learning methods that clearly encompass international learning outcomes, as well as the high caliber of teaching staff. The program is furthermore characterized by a fundamental and passionate European and international spirit which is successfully passed on to students, staff and alumni and underpins the entire program with an international mind-set as the running theme.