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Successful Collaboration in Legal Education Encourages OUC and University of Arizona to Expand Partnership (Nov. 2019)


The year of 2019 has witnessed a series of landmark achievements for the partnership between Ocean University of China and the University of Arizona.

In late June, the inaugural class of graduates from the OUC-UA Undergraduate Legal Education Cooperative Program (“ULECP”) successfully completed their studies in the program and received dual degrees from both of OUC and the UA. The ULECP, first approved by China’s Ministry of Education in 2015, has been the first and only Sino-U.S. dual degree undergraduate program that offers students the unique opportunity to study both Chinese and U.S. legal systems in four years and graduate with both an LL.B. from OUC and a B.A. in law from UA. Students in the program take courses with leading faculty members from OUC and UA. They are also offered intensive training in legal English administered by highly experienced UA language specialists. With nearly 70% of students in the inaugural class now admitted to prestigious graduate law programs in China, U.S., U.K. and Australia, and the rest pursuing promising career options in law and government, this high-profile program has made its name for exceptional academic rigor and professional prospect among students, parents, and the legal circle in both China and the U.S.

The success of the ULECP has been premised on the unprecedented collegiality and collaboration between two flagship universities and their highly renowned law schools. Legal education at OUC dates back to 1980. With a faculty that boasts nationally acclaimed experts and rising young scholars in such areas as legal theories, criminal justice, procedural laws, international law, and environmental law, OUC Law school now offers the full suite of degree programs in law, including the traditional LL.B, LL.M, J.M, Ph.D in law programs as well the dual degree program and an international LLM program. The Law School received a “B” level grade (top 20-30%) from China’s Ministry of Education during the most recent round of its nationwide review of law programs, and it ranked #41 in a recent nationwide ranking by a leading independent agency. OUC law graduates go on to important and coveted positions in the nation’s judicial system, administrative agencies, state-owned and private enterprises, higher educational institutions and leading think tanks; many also devote their career to service areas such as Xinjiang and Tibet.

The University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law, meanwhile, has consistently ranked top-tier among U.S. law schools, and has also long been a leader in innovation in legal education. UA Law was the first law school in the U.S. to accept the GRE for its JD applicants, a move that is now radically reshaping law school admission practices and has been followed by many other top law schools. While U.S. law schools are traditionally offered at the graduate level, in 2014 UA launched the now highly successful BA in Law program, creating a new class of legal professional that is trained for modern workforce and a wide variety of careers that require a strong legal foundation. It was also such audacious reform and the progressive spirit that have made the launch and the successful delivery of the ULECP possible. In October 2019, the MOE formally notified OUC that the ULECP passed its first formal assessment after operating for four years. Attracting ever stronger classes of new students, the ULECP now sets the standard for dual degree programs in not only law but all disciplines of higher education in China.

Leveraging the prolific relationship formed through the ULECP, OUC and UA now looks to further deepening and expanding their ties. In early July 2019, UA and OUC co-host in Qingdao the high-profile inaugural conference for the UA global network of micro-campuses, which was attended by dozens of leaders of higher education institutions from Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, and North America. As Dr. Yu Zhigang, the OUC President and Dr. Robert Robbins, UA President met on OUC campus during the conference, the two sides agreed to explore collaborative opportunities in areas and projects beyond the law program. Both sides are now working to establish a OUC-UA Joint Research Center that will become a dedicated platform to coordinate wide range collaborative projects.