The Erasmus School of Law’s (ESL) Master’s degree in Legal Theory and Socio-Legal Studies will be discontinued with effect from next academic year. Students are disappointed, because they say the decision was made purely on economic grounds. “Things shouldn’t revolve exclusively around economic value. They should also revolve around the degree programme’s contribution to academia,” says student Marie-Alice Morel. “Our degree programme is unique. It’s pretty much the only law degree programme that focuses on the social and philosophical aspects of the discipline.”

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‘ESL loses a programme that could have become a beacon for law students’

Erasmus School of Law has decided to cancel the Legal Theory & Socio-legal Studies master…

Financial challenges

The Dean of Teaching of ESL’s Master’s degrees, Maarten Verbrugh, stated in an e-mail that ESL’s board understands the students’ disappointment. “Due to the very low student numbers and the poor financial yield of the last few years, the board had to make the difficult decision to discontinue this Master’s track, particularly since there are financial challenges involved,” Verbrugh explains. The Legal Theory degree has ‘always had low enrolment levels’. In the four years it has been on offer, the degree programme has attracted a total of 35 students, only 8 of whom have so far successfully completed the programme.

Verbrugh says that they ‘did not rush into the decision’. “This was an intended decision that was submitted to both the Programme Committee and the Faculty Council right from the start. They are involved in the process and have both agreed to it.”

The faculty is keen to emphasise that the discontinuation of the Master’s track will not adversely affect its current students. A transitional arrangement will be implemented for students who are unable to complete the Master’s programme this year.

New Master’s degree

According to Verbrugh, the discontinuation of the degree programme will reduce lecturers’ heavy workload. “Certain components of the Master’s degree will be incorporated into other Master’s degree programmes. This decision will also give us the opportunity to develop new Master’s courses, which will be in line with the faculty’s profile but will also dovetail with the varied interests of our future students.”

Students have presented the board with their objections. You can read the letter drawn up by the current students of the Master’s degree in Legal Theory here.