Ikenna’s story since leaving UWE

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Ikenna officially completed his LLB degree with a first class honors at UWE in June 2015 and had his graduation ceremony later that year in July. Ikenna stayed in Bristol until the middle of August in anticipation of undertaking training contract interviews before relocating to London. He prepared as hard as he could with the assistance of the pro-diversity recruitment organization, ‘Rare Recruitment’. Unfortunately he was unsuccessful in getting a job. As an international student in the UK on a student visa, the only available option for him was to relocate back home to Nigeria.

With two months left on his visa, he made the journey back home by the first week of September. The ultimate plan was to qualify as a Barrister in Nigeria whilst also using that time to seek for graduate study opportunities. Ikenna couldn’t immediately enroll for the Bar Qualification Course at the Nigerian Law School because having obtained an LLB abroad, he needed to do a preliminary/foundational course first, in which the period of enrollment had passed. This meant that he would have to wait for the next enrollment in June 2016.

With that much time to spare, he thought about internship opportunities and proudly got one in Accra, Ghana with an Organization known as Forum Solutions International (FSI). They were putting together an African Energy and Investment Summit. Ikenna was drafted into their communications and Content Development Unit. As the name of the role implied, the unit primarily designed the entire concept/content of the said summit. In no time at all, his people skills were recognized and he was drafted in helping to assemble resource persons and speakers for the summit. This provided him with the opportunity to reconnect with some of the lecturers at UWE who he then shared the idea of being keynote speakers at the summit (Dr. Ben Pointin, Profs. Jona Razzaque & Umut Turksen).

It was a wonderful opportunity for Ikenna to apply his planning and organizational skills he had acquired by running organizations such as the African Law Students Forum (ALSF) and Aspiring Solicitors at UWE. The presentation skills from Criminal, DRS, Prof. Dev., Prof. Ethics as well as Globalization Trade and Natural Resources Law modules at UWE were very useful in designing and pitching the summit concept to prospective sponsors.

On completion of Ikenna’s 6 months term with them in March 2016; he was offered the role of Program Manager in a newly constituted civil society/non-governmental organization in his home state of Enugu, Nigeria. It was both convenient for the impending Course at the Nigerian Law School and a fresh challenge, so he took the offer until he started his 14 month intensive course. He went onto developing, and implementing programs/events that fulfill the fundamental objectives of the organization. These are to enhance the consciousness of women and the most vulnerable members of its surrounding communities to their human, economic, social and political rights and how best to assert/apply them.

Whilst Ikenna is still gaining all these extra-curricular work experiences, he continued to seek opportunities for his postgraduate studies as that had always been the plan. He got a number of offers from Universities around the world including Westminster and London Southbank in the UK; the university of Georgia, American university – Washington College of Law, university of Maryland – Francis King Carey School of Law all in the US and the universities of Dalhousie (The Schulich School of Law), Ottawa and the Osgoode Hall Law School of the of York university all in Canada.

Remarkably, the Osgoode offer came with full a tuition scholarship plus some stipend (unlike the others that offered only part tuition scholarships or waivers). Having been granted a visa, it is safe to say that Ikenna will be starting his postgraduate study (Master of Laws – Thesis) this fall at Osgoode; two weeks after completing his exams and concluding the program at the Nigerian Law School.

Ikenna acknowledges and appreciates the remarkable role of the UWE staff members in the progress so far. Since leaving UWE, he has lost count of how many applications (both academic and non-academic) he has required references which the former lecturers at UWE stepped up and assisted him. Most prominent among them are Shilan Shah Davis, Umut Turksen, Jona Razzaque, Nicholas Ryder, Tim Angel and a host of others. There is also Clare Barber at the certificates/transcript dispatching unit who he cannot afford not to mention because of her exceptional professionalism and willingness to assist.

UWE has shown Ikenna that a university doesn’t just offer you teaching and certificate; it goes above and beyond to offer the necessary assistance and support that ensures that the purpose for which you desired the learning and certificate in the first place does not evade you. This experience should be one that all students take on board and recognise as a story that they can follow.

Honorary Degree awarded to Gillian Camm for commitment to UWE Bristol

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Gillian Camm is to be awarded the Honorary Degree of Doctor of the University (Hon DUniv) by the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) in recognition of her commitment and contribution to the University in the role of UWE Bristol Chair of the Board of Governors.

Gillian is Chair of the Board of the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education and Senior Independent Director of Wessex Water.

Gillian has held non-executive positions in a variety of organisations including in the Home Office, the General Medical Council and the law firm Capsticks. Her last executive position was a Board director of Clerical Medical Investment Group. Prior to that she was a partner in Hay Management Consultants where she developed a substantial South West office.

Gillian is a member of the Society of Merchant Venturers and the Honourable Gloucestershire Company and holds the position of the Deputy Lieutenant for Gloucestershire. She is also a Vice President of Quartet Community Foundation.

The Honorary Degree of Doctor of the University (Hon DUniv) will be conferred on Gillian Camm at the Degree Ceremony of the Faculty of Business and Law at Bristol Cathedral on Wednesday 12 July at 17:00.

£50 million UWE Business and Law building is a step closer

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NEW BUILD

The new £50 million Faculty of Business and Law at UWE Bristol (the University of the West of England) is a step closer to completion.

The new state-of-the-art building will house Bristol Business School and Bristol Law School and is part of the University’s campus development plan to build a University for the 21st Century.

A ceremony is being held on 4 May [2016] to mark construction reaching the top floor of the landmark building.

Simon Walker, Director General of the Institute of Directors and an Honorary Graduand from UWE Bristol will mark the occasion by securing a golden bolt on the top floor of the building on Wednesday 4 May.

The new building is located on the northern side of the plaza at the heart of developments on the UWE Bristol Frenchay Campus and is due for completion by January 2017.

The new building will ensure that staff, students and businesses have access to world class facilities and it will enable achievement of the core of the Faculty strategy: engagement with the business sector in the region.

Research by the Association of Business Schools and the Chartered Management Institute, shows that UK business schools and businesses, who are key employers of graduates, could benefit from closer working relationships. Businesses say they want ‘business-ready’ graduates, and key to achieving this are student placements and work experience which are a core part of the vision for the Faculty.

The numbers of UWE Bristol business graduates entering professional jobs within 6 months of graduation has been consistently ahead of the marketplace for business graduates. The latest data based on the 2013/14 Destination of Leavers in Higher Education (DLHE) produced by the Higher Education Statistics Agency showed 74% of UWE Bristol graduates entering professional jobs immediately after graduation compared to a national figure of 67%, confirming the capability of these graduates and the underlining demand in the region.

Working closely with a modern practice-based university like UWE Bristol brings huge benefits for business and this new facility will foster formal and informal interaction between businesses and the University.

Simon Walker, Director General of the Institute of Directors says,“UWE Bristol is a great university with impressive international reach. It should be commended for investing in the workforce of the future. Access to skills is a major concern for IoD members, as shortages in key areas can prevent businesses from growing. Management, professional, commercial and entrepreneurial skills are vital to this region. UWE’s effort will create strong career opportunities for students and employees alike.”

Key professional organisations will have a base in the new building enabling barristers, accountants, small business owners and start-ups to mix with staff and students in the learning and social areas. Throughout the building there will be flexible workspaces available for staff, students and visitors to use.

Donna Whitehead Pro Vice-Chancellor and Executive Dean of the Faculty of Business and Law says, “This will be a live environment where staff and students and business work together – with collaboration and collegiality at its core. We consult with our advisory board of key business figures who challenge us to make our provision meet the needs of employers and the latest developments in the business world.

“Our students are very enterprising – for example we have very successful Pro Bono work carried out by Law students offering free legal advice to victims of domestic violence and benefit claimants – resulting in successfully gaining £1m in welfare benefits for people wrongly declared fit for work. We plan to develop this model of Pro Bono work for a business audience – enabling our students, with supervision, to offer advice to small businesses on areas such as start-ups, intellectual property, HR issues, marketing and communications. These activities help us to be engaged with the region, and they benefit students by giving them live experience interacting with business owners and developers.

“This new building will enable us to deliver our strategy by providing a first-class teaching and learning environment comprising lecture facilities, teaching and seminar rooms, as well as specialist learning facilities such as a trading room, team entrepreneurship hubs and law courts. It will have spaces that encourage interaction and learning areas enhanced by the latest technology, as well as zones for all subject areas.”

Bristol Business School and Bristol Law School educate future professionals in all aspects of business and law – from entrepreneurship, management, leadership, strategy through to economists, accountants, marketing and human resources. As well as offering academic law courses they also train barristers and solicitors. They provide alongside this, relevant research into important business and law issues that confront both businesses and society.

Innovative new courses, such as the successful Business Team Entrepreneurship degree, enable students to respond to the challenges of creating their own businesses during their time at university.

The new building will include: two showcase law courts, a city trading room, a 300 seat lecture theatre, two Harvard lecture theatres, a number of smaller teaching spaces, IT suites, flexible social learning spaces, external business engagement space, central social space and café.

ISG is the main contractor for the project.

The University is currently seeking further funding from the business and alumni community to develop Technology Enhanced Learning classrooms to deliver the very best in student learning experience and teaching. At the same time this will give these businesses access to talented students and graduates, research and development.

Bristol law students win £1m in welfare benefits for clients

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law hammer

Law students’ work representing benefits claimants wrongly declared fit for employment has helped secure a nomination for a national award.

University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) students have been volunteering at the Avon & Bristol Law Centre advising claimants challenging changes made to their disability entitlement. They have helped win more than £1 million in benefits for clients incorrectly judged to be capable of working by the Department for Work and Pensions.

The highly successful collaboration with the law centre is now in the running for the title Most Effective Pro Bono Partnership at the LawWorks Annual Pro Bono Awards. The partnership – which also involves students from the University of Law – has been included in a four-strong shortlist for the prize.

Since the project began three years ago, the success rate of appeals made by the students and law centre stands well above the national average at 95 per cent.

Marcus Keppel-Palmer, UWE’s pro bono liaison, said, “Recognition by LawWorks in shortlisting the Legal Advocacy Support Project for the 2015 Awards is excellent news for the pro bono commitment that UWE has. As a full service Law School, we are committed to giving students as many opportunities through extra-curricular activities such as pro bono, whether at undergraduate or postgraduate level.

“Many of our students devote significant amounts of their time to assisting the local community, and we are very proud of the recognition for the link with the Avon & Bristol Law Centre.”

The project has helped more than 200 people over the last two years with an average of £5,000 won for each client.

UWE Bristol students have become a familiar sight at Bristol’s Social Security and Child Support Tribunal, where they represent clients at their benefit appeals in front of a judge and doctor. The project recruits the brightest law students to ensure the best results for clients. All the UWE students on the project who graduated this year have received First Class degrees.

The LawWorks Annual Pro Bono Awards recognise and celebrate achievement in legal pro bono work undertaken by organisations and individuals, and the dedication and commitment of the legal sector to positively impact individuals and communities.

The awards on Tuesday November 24 will be hosted by legal commentator and journalist Joshua Rozenberg, with an inaugural annual lecture given by Director of Liberty Shami Chakrabarti CBE.

Martin Barnes, Chief Executive of LawWorks, said, “The LawWorks Pro Bono Awards provide an opportunity to celebrate the legal profession’s dedication to improving lives and enabling access to justice and I would like to congratulate all the finalists. The quality and range of nominations demonstrate innovation and commitment to pro bono and we are grateful to all who took the time to nominate.”