< Previous page ^ Table of Contents Next page >

Joint Report of the Council and the General Board on the establishment of a joint course in Law between the Universities of Cambridge and Paris II

The COUNCIL and the GENERAL BOARD beg leave to report to the University as follows:

1. In 1992 the University approved a proposal put forward by the Faculty Board of Law for a European option in Part II of the Law Tripos (see Reporter, 1992-93, p. 166). The purpose of this proposal was to enable Cambridge Law students to obtain experience of Law courses in other universities of the European Union, an objective which the Faculty Board thought highly desirable in view of the growing importance of links between the UK and the other member states of the EU. Those arrangements came into force in October 1993; they allow students to spend two years in Cambridge reading for Parts IA and IB of the Law Tripos, and then to spend a year studying at a foreign university before returning to Cambridge to read for Part II of the Tripos in their final year. This arrangement is coupled with an exchange scheme, under which European students spend a year studying Law in Cambridge.

2. The scheme outlined above has been academically very successful (though certain aspects of the arrangements, in particular the funding of College fees, have not been altogether satisfactory). Originally established as a pilot scheme in conjunction with the University of Poitiers, it has now been extended to include Utrecht and Regensburg; twelve Cambridge students take advantage of the scheme each year, and a corresponding number of students, usually six from Poitiers, three from Utrecht, and three from Regensburg, spend a year in Cambridge.

3. Encouraged by the success of this scheme, the Faculty Board have now put forward proposals for a more ambitious scheme involving direct collaboration with the University of Paris II, one of the leading Law Schools in France. Under the proposed scheme the two universities would jointly offer a four-year course in law, which would be available to a small number of carefully selected students. Students following this course would spend two years in Cambridge followed by two in Paris; at the end of the fourth year, having passed the relevant examinations in both universities, they would qualify for both the Cambridge B.A. Degree and the Maîtrise en droit from Paris II. All students, both those from France and those from Cambridge, would spend their first two years in Cambridge. The University of Paris II would accept the qualifications gained at Cambridge as equivalent to a DEUG (Diplôme d'études universitaires générales), the qualification obtained after two years in a French university, which is normally a requirement for admission to the course leading subsequently to the Maîtrise. As far as Cambridge is concerned, it is proposed that passing the French examinations for the Maîtrise would constitute an alternative means of obtaining honours in Part II of the Law Tripos, so that students would qualify for the Cambridge B.A. Degree at the end of their fourth year.

4. The Faculty Board believe that this scheme would provide an exceptional opportunity for a limited number of highly talented students to obtain a legal education of great breadth and depth, gaining insight into two very different but complementary legal systems. There is great demand, both in the academic world and in legal practice, for lawyers with a cross-cultural background of the sort that this course would provide.

5. The Faculty Board envisage that the scheme would operate along the following lines:

(a) Administration of the course

The course would be overseen by a Management Committee composed of representatives of Cambridge and Paris II in equal numbers. The Cambridge members would include representatives of the Faculty of Law (appointed by the Faculty Board) and representatives of the Colleges (appointed by the Senior Tutors' Committee), together with one person appointed by the General Board. The Committee would supervise the admission of students to the course, and would also monitor the process of examination and assessment.

(b) Number of students

The course would be open to a limited number of students, probably between six and ten a year from each side. The precise number would be fixed by the Management Committee, after consulting the central bodies and the Colleges in Cambridge and the corresponding authorities in Paris.

(c) Structure of the course

Both the UK students and the French students would spend their first two years in Cambridge, reading for Part IA and Part IB of the Law Tripos. They would then spend two further years in France, where their studies would be broadly equivalent to a Master's degree course in England. This arrangement follows largely from the fact that the Law Tripos is a first-degree course, while the French Maîtrise is (to put it in English terms) a postgraduate course, usually taken by students in their fourth year of university education. It has the obvious disadvantage that the French students would undergo the double culture-shock of beginning their university education and doing so in a foreign country through the medium of a foreign language. Nevertheless the Faculty Board and the University of Paris II consider that this disadvantage would be outweighed by the advantage of having a common course structure for both groups of students. Moreover, in practice they believe that any difficulties will be minimized by two other factors: (i) the limited numbers will ensure that only students of the highest ability are admitted to the course, and (ii) many of the French students will have spent a foundation year in a 'classe préparatoire' in France after completing their baccalauréat, or will be spending a gap year at a French university, and so will not be coming to Cambridge straight from school.

(d) Admission to the course

After discussions between the Faculty Board of Law, the Senior Tutors' Committee, the Admissions Forum, and the relevant authorities of Paris II, the following arrangements are proposed:

Students applying through the UK admissions system would submit an application through UCAS to the College of their choice. The B.A./Maîtrise course would be designated as a special course, distinct from the regular B.A. course, so that candidates applying to Cambridge would be able to apply either for the B.A./Maîtrise course alone or for both courses, giving an order of preference. Preliminary decisions would be made by Colleges; if a College wished to admit a student for the B.A./Maîtrise course it would submit the candidate's file to the Management Committee, which would make the final selection on the basis of suitability and academic merit. The Management Committee would make decisions in January; candidates who were not successful in gaining entry to the B.A./Maîtrise course would be free to accept an offer for the regular B.A. course or to decline such an offer in favour of an offer from another university. In addition, it would be possible in principle for a student originally admitted to the regular B.A. course to transfer at a later stage to the B.A./Maîtrise course, if places were available; such a transfer would require the approval of the Management Committee.

Students applying through the French system would submit an application to Paris II, which would make the preliminary selection, leaving the final selection to be made by the Management Committee, as in the case of British applicants. Because the timetable of university applications is not the same in France as it is in Britain, the final selection of French students would have to take place in the New Year rather than in December, and might not be completed until March. The Management Committee would then negotiate with Admissions Tutors to arrange College places for the successful French applicants. In the light of discussions that have taken place in recent months, the Faculty Board of Law are confident that a substantial number of Colleges will be willing to offer places to French B.A./Maîtrise students.

In selecting students, whether French or British, the Management Committee would take great care to admit only those whose proficiency in the two languages would enable them to cope with university studies in both countries. It is envisaged that the selection process would include, for both British and French applicants, a written test and an interview in the 'other' language. Further language teaching is not envisaged as part of the scheme. However, the English-speaking students, who would spend their first two years at university being taught in their mother tongue, would need to take steps to keep their French in working order.

(e) Student finance

The DfEE have advised that the proposed course will be a designated course for the purposes of the Awards Regulations. Financial support for students following a designated course falls under two separate heads, tuition fees and maintenance. As far as tuition fees are concerned, all students following the proposed course would be required to pay a University composition fee of the standard amount (expected to be £1,000 in 1998-99) for each of the two years that they spend in Cambridge, together with such fees and other charges as may be payable to their Colleges. Students would not be required to pay any fee to Cambridge while working in France during the third and fourth years of the course. In France, university tuition is in principle free of charge to the student, and seems destined to remain so. However, students at French universities are required to pay frais d'inscription of about £100 a year. It is expected that all participants in the joint course will be required to pay this charge (which falls outside the scope of any restrictions on fees imposed by the Teaching and Higher Education Bill) for the years that they spend in Paris. As far as maintenance is concerned, UK students will be eligible, under the Government's present plans, for student loans in respect of the whole of the course, including the period spent abroad; French students will be responsible for their own maintenance, and will be eligible for such French grants and loans as may be available.

(f) Teaching and examining

During their two years at Cambridge B.A./Maîtrise students would attend the same lectures and supervisions as other Law students, and would sit the same examinations. Their choice of subjects would be limited, however, to those listed in Annex 1 to this Report, which are the subjects that Paris II and the French Ministry of Education have agreed to incorporate into the Paris II degree. The Faculty Board consider that it would be desirable to provide a certain amount of extra teaching for students taking this course, chiefly to prepare them for the years to be spent in France.

At Paris II, B.A./Maîtrise students would similarly attend the regular lectures and classes. Recognizing that in Paris (as in other French Law Schools) class sizes are much larger than in Cambridge, the authorities of Paris II plan to provide additional small-group teaching for B.A./Maîtrise students.

The courses to be followed in the two years spent in Paris are listed in Annex 2 to this Report. B.A./Maîtrise students would be subject to the same processes of assessment as other Paris II students taking the relevant courses.

At Paris II, students are assessed by a combination of continuous assessment, written examinations, and viva voce examinations. In each year the examination process operates in two stages, a preliminary stage known as an épreuve d'admissibilité and, for those students who are successful, a second stage known as an épreuve d'admission. The Faculty Board of Law are confident that the Paris II examination system is both rigorous and fair. In principle, both Universities propose to leave their partner University to examine each year and according to their own methods the students on the joint programme who are studying there. The two Universities would also accept each other's arrangements for students who fail or who are prevented by illness from sitting their examinations (through the machinery for allowances in Cambridge, and by means of re-examination in Paris). While in principle leaving the partner University to manage these matters, the Faculty Board of Law at Cambridge would be willing to admit an observer from Paris II at the relevant final Examiners' meetings, and Paris II is similarly willing to admit an observer from Cambridge.

(g) Pastoral care

The Faculty Board of Law at Cambridge will appoint an officer to be responsible for the pastoral care of French students while in Cambridge; Paris II will make similar provision for UK students during the period spent in Paris. Each of these two officers will keep in touch with his or her counterpart in the partner University; the Paris officer will act as a channel of communication between the UK students and their Tutors or Directors of Studies in Cambridge as necessary.

(h) Award of degrees

In order to qualify for the Cambridge B.A. Degree, a student is normally required to keep nine terms by residence. Statute B, III, 9(b) empowers the Council, on the recommendation of the Faculty Board concerned, to allow not more than three terms of residence 'to any candidate for a degree who but for such allowance would be required to keep nine or more terms by actual residence and who has pursued for not more than three terms a course or courses of study outside the University under the direction of that Faculty Board ...' This provision was introduced in 1992, in order to cater for students who pursue courses outside Cambridge as part of their study for a Cambridge degree; in proposing this wording the Council intended primarily to provide for candidates for the M.Eng. Degree who read for Part II of the Manufacturing Engineering Tripos and who commonly spend periods in all three terms of their fourth year on industrial assignments, usually outside Cambridge. However, the Council recognized that there was a wider need for this provision, in connexion with study abroad, in other subjects besides Engineering: in proposing the amendment of Statute they went on to say:

The Council are in addition aware of the developing concern of Faculties and Departments that they should be able to propose arrangements by which undergraduates would pursue a part of their course in another country (in particular, in a country of the European Community). It is clearly important that undergraduates of this University should not be precluded by the stringency of its residence requirements from participating in such schemes where it would be to their academic advantage to do so.

The proposed joint Paris/Cambridge Law course is clearly a case of the sort that the Council had in mind in 1992. Unfortunately, the wording of the Statute adopted at that time was such as to exclude the proposed new course; the statute in its present form applies only in a case where the student has pursued a course outside the University 'for not more than three terms', and the proposed B.A./Maîtrise course would involve residence in Paris for six terms. The Council note that, although the Statute includes a limit on the length of courses outside Cambridge, this is in fact unnecessary; the material restriction is on the number of terms that may be allowed, and if that restriction is given statutory authority nothing is gained by adding a further restriction on the length of the course. The Council therefore propose that the Statute should be amended by removing the latter restriction; the effect of the amendment would be to permit the Council to make an allowance of terms in any case where a student has followed a course of study outside the University, whether for three terms or for a longer period. Such an allowance would still be limited to three terms, so that all students would be required to keep six terms by residence in Cambridge.

6. The General Board have recently approved guidelines to be followed in all cases where it is proposed to enter into collaborative arrangements with another university for the provision of a joint course. In conformity with these guidelines, the arrangements described in this Report will be incorporated in a formal agreement between the General Board and the University of Paris II.

7. It is hoped that the first cohort of students will embark on the joint course in October 2000, moving to Paris in 2002. The Faculty Board of Law are confident that for the first two years at least they will be able to provide any necessary extra teaching that the joint degree may require, and also any extra administrative support, within existing resources. They do not exclude the possibility that, in the longer term, they may eventually need to ask the University for additional help.

8. The Council and the General Board are conscious that, given the current state of the Government's plans for students' financial support, some aspects of the financial arrangements for the proposed course are necessarily tentative. Nevertheless they believe that a collaborative scheme of the kind described in this Report will be of great benefit to the University, and that it is in the University's interests to proceed with these proposals, notwithstanding any uncertainty about funding. They therefore commend the proposals to the Regent House in the strongest terms.

9. The Council and the General Board recommend:

 I. That approval be given in principle for the establishment of a course in Law, to be jointly administered by the University of Cambridge and the University of Paris II, as proposed in this Report, and that the General Board be authorized to enter into a formal agreement with the University of Paris II for the provision of such a course, such agreement to be limited in the first instance to an initial period of three years.

 II. That, subject to the approval of Her Majesty in Council, the Statutes of the University be amended as set out below, and that this amendment be submitted under the Common Seal of the University to Her Majesty in Council for approval.

Statute B

By amending section 9(b) so as to read:

(b) On the recommendation of the Faculty Board or comparable authority concerned, the Council may allow not more than three terms to any candidate for a degree who but for such allowance would be required to keep nine or more terms by actual residence and who since matriculation has pursued a course or courses of study outside the University under the direction of that Faculty Board or comparable authority.

III. That the regulations for the Law Tripos (Statutes and Ordinances, p. 312) be amended as follows:

By renumbering Regulations 9-23 as 10-24, by amending cross-references accordingly, and by inserting the following as Regulation 9.

9. A candidate who, under arrangements approved by the Faculty Board of Law, has spent not less than six terms studying at the University of Paris II and has qualified for the degree of Maîtrise en droit of that University shall be deemed thereby to have obtained honours in Part II of the Law Tripos. A list containing the names of persons so qualified shall be certified by the Chairman of the Faculty Board of Law and published in the Reporter.

IV. That the following regulations be approved for a Committee of Management for the course in Law jointly administered by the University of Cambridge and the University of Paris II:

1. There shall be a Committee of Management for the joint course in Law administered by the University of Cambridge and the University of Paris II. The Committee shall consist of:

(a) two members of the Regent House appointed by the Faculty Board of Law;
(b) two members of the Regent House appointed by the Senior Tutors' Committee;
(c) one person appointed by the General Board;
(d) five representatives of the University of Paris II.

Members in classes (a)-(c) shall be appointed in the Michaelmas Term to serve for two years from 1 January next following their appointment.

2. The Committee shall elect annually one of their number as Chairman and one as Secretary.

3. The Committee shall have the following duties:

(a) to approve candidates for entry to the joint course, and to consult with Colleges, as appropriate, about their admission to Colleges;
(b) to monitor the arrangements for the assessment of candidates following the joint course;
(c) to make an annual report on the conduct of the course to the General Board, to the Faculty Board of Law, and to the University of Paris II.
27 July 1998

22 July 1998


Subjects to be taken by students following the joint course during the period spent in Cambridge (the first two years of the course)

First Year

Civil law I
Constitutional law
Criminal law
Law of tort

Second Year

Family law or Criminal procedure and criminal evidence
Administrative law or Land law
European Union law

Subjects to be taken by students following the joint course during the period spent in Paris (the third and fourth years of the course)

Third year

Droit des obligations (2 semesters)
Droit administratif (2 semesters)
Droit international privé (1 semester)
Droit des affaires I and II (2 semesters)
Droit du travail général (1 semester)
Droit international public (1 semester)
Libertés publiques (1 semester)

Fourth year

Droit civil du crédit et droit des contrats spéciaux (2 semesters)
Droit fiscal des affaires (2 semesters)
Activités financières des entreprises et sanction des difficultés financières des entreprises (2 semesters)
Voies d'exécution (1 semester)
Propriété littéraire, artistique, et industrielle (1 semester)
Procédure civile (1 semester)
Droit pénal des affaires et des entreprises (1 semester)
Droit international économique (1 semester)
< Previous page ^ Table of Contents Next page >

Cambridge University Reporter, 29 July 1998
Copyright © 1998 The Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University of Cambridge.