The Sundaytimes Sri Lanka

We offer our students nothing short of the best- Chairman CFPS

Interview with Saliya Pieris, Chairman of CFPS Law School

The CFPS Law School situated in the heart of Colombo 7 has over the years made a mark in legal education and the legal profession in Sri Lanka. Being a Registered Centre of the University of London’s International Programmes the CFPS School of Law is headed by a team of legal professionals who are held in the highest regard in legal circles. The Chairman of the CFPS Law School , Mr.Saliya Pieris, a well known lawyer in Sri Lanka and its Deputy Chairman Parliamentarian Ajith P Perera spoke to us on their Law School, which they claim is today the market leader in private legal education in Sri Lanka

Q:  Mr. Pieris, the CFPS claims to be the market leader in private legal education in  Sri Lanka, why do you say so?
A. The CFPS which commenced in December 1991 has for over 21 years trained students entering Sri Lanka Law College. Over the years we have trained many thousands of students who have since entered the profession and made their mark as lawyers, judges and public servants. Following our extraordinary success in that sphere in 2007 we started providing teaching support for students studying for the LL.B. Programme of the International Programmes of the University of London. In a very short space of time in 2009, the University granted the CFPS the status of a Registered Centre. Then 2011 the University of London granted us permission to teach the Diploma in Law- which is a full time programme. The granting of the Registered Centre status was after a process of evaluation and upon us satisfying the University of the quality of the services we provide. Today apart from the several thousand students who attend our Law Entrance Classes, we have a student base of about 350 students following our LL.B. and Diploma Course.

Q:When compared to other institutions that provide education in law, what difference does the CFPS make to the student?
A. I would think that our aim is to produce quality graduates and legal professionals. Those who know us and our institution- both in the legal circles and outside- are aware of the dedication and the quality of teaching that we provide- and that too at the most reasonable cost. I think without any doubt the greatest advantage that a CFPS student is the high quality of lecturing and tutoring that we provide. We encourage our students not merely to learn the law but also to be analytical and to think about the society. We strive to produce quality graduates and lawyers who will be an asset to our profession and the society. We have a panel of lecturers who are highly qualified as well as young and dynamic. Many of them have their postgraduate qualifications in Law or are Barristers-at-Law qualified in England. Among our visiting lecturers are leading practitioners who are well versed in a range of fields, senior lecturers in law at leading Universities in Sri Lanka as well as those with teaching experience in Universities abroad. Before we recruit lecturers we satisfy ourselves of the high quality of their teaching and we constantly monitor them and obtain students’ feedback to ensure quality. In the first year each subject has a lecturer as well a tutor. Tutorials are conducted in smaller groups to enable greater interaction between student and teacher.

Q. Can you tell us what additional features does the CFPS provide which is not available in other institutions?
A. At the beginning of the course our students our offered an Orientation Programme, where they are given a background knowledge of important topics that would assist them in their studies for a British Gold Standard Degree. We invited several eminent persons including academics, parliamentarians and practitioners, to address them on topics as diverse as “An outline of British History”, “Reading for a Degree” and “the International Human Rights regime”. In one session we had the students to watch the popular British Court Room series “Crown Court” to get a glimpse of how the courts in England work. It is after this Programme that they get on to the lectures proper. In September this year we will commence an Internship Programme for our second year students- to give them the experience of working in a law chamber or law office for a few weeks. I do not think any other Institution offers this Programme for its students. We also have a student counselor who is available to advise students on the issues they may face while studying. This year we have started several sessions to help students to improve their legal writing skills. For those who need to improve their English language we offer them a programme on English language skills for law.

Q. What are the student activities that your Institution offers?
We encourage our students to organize their own student activities. We encourage student interaction. We have encouraged our students to form their own Student Councils and to organize their activities. For instance last week our second years had a social, while our first years organized a debate on legalizing abortion in Sri Lanka, between our Diploma Batch and the LL.B. at the National Library Services Auditorium. I am proud to say that the Chief Guest who attended the event, Mr. Harsha Fernando Attorney-at-Law was extremely satisfied with the high level of research and presentation of our students. Mr. Fernando delivered a lecture to our students on the Rule of Law. Our students are taken on visits to Parliament and we encourage them to watch court proceedings. We also encourage public speaking debating and mooting. We invite students to participate and contribute in enhancing the quality of their student life with us.

Q. Mr. Perera, what about the physical facilities offered by the CFPS ?
A.    Our air-conditioned class-rooms are equipped with audio-visual technology. We also have a well equipped library and students have access to internet and computers there. We have a collection of all the legal literature needed for the students to study. In addition students registered with the University of London are provided with the necessary Subject Guides and Text Books of the University and have access to the Virtual Legal Environment (VLE) and the online libraries of the University of London. Our very location in Colombo 7 near is an added convenience for students.

Q. What sort of progress monitoring mechanism do you have in place?
A. This is perhaps one of our more very keenly addressed areas of need from a student’s perspective. Our students are monitored through two end of trimester examinations as well as take home assignments and tutorials.

Q. How is a student finally awarded the Diploma or Degree?
The Diploma or Degree is awarded by the University of London, entirely based on the student’s performance at the examinations of the University, which are conducted by the British Council in Sri Lanka. The answer scripts are marked in London and students are required to achieve the same level as the students of the Colleges of the University of London. Equally the Degree awarded has the same recognition as the Degrees awarded to the students of the Colleges of the University. The students can attend the graduation ceremony

Q. What is the difference between the Diploma in Law and the LL.B. Programmes?
The Diploma in Law is generally a full time course (during weekdays) and the subjects are the same as the first year of the LL.B. One difference is that the Diploma is full time, while the LL.B. lectures are on weekends. Of course there is an option to do the Diploma too part time- in two years. Once a student obtains the Diploma in Law from the University of London, which is in itself a qualification, he can then proceed to the second year of the LL.B. Degree.

Q. Are graduates entitled to obtain exemptions?
Graduates from recognized universities can complete the LL.B. Degree in two years on the Graduate Route. They have to do three subjects less than those under the General Route.

Q. Are the qualifications required to do the Diploma in Law different to the LL.B.?
Yes, I see the Diploma route as one which is available to those young talented students who may not have pursued their A/level studies or who may not have achieved the required goal at the A/levels , yet to pursue their dream of becoming a lawyer. Those who may not have the requisite qualification to enter the LL.B. directly , can opt to first do the Diploma and then proceed to do the rest of the LL.B. The requirements for the Diploma in Law are 4 Credits at the O/Levels (including English). The LL.B. requires either 2Cs at the Local A/Levels or 2 E passes at the London A/levels and also a Credit in English at the O/Levels. If the student is over 21 years even 1C and 2S passes at the Local A/levels with a credit in English at the O/Levels or 1 E pass at the London A/levels would also suffice.

Q. There are many foreign degree Programmes offered in Sri Lanka. How would a student joining CFPS Law School know that they are reading for and would eventually earn a quality recognized degree?
We at CFPS never compromise on excellence and standards as our students over two decades will testify. We will offer them nothing short of the best.

The University of London is one of the top Universities in England. The University of London Undergraduate Laws Programme is governed academically by the six Colleges of the University of London, which by themselves are considered as some of the best Universities in the World. They collectively known as the Laws Consortium. These are Birkbeck, Kings’s College London, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), Queen Mary, the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and University College of London.

The World University Rankings (www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/world-university-rankings/2011-2012/top-400.html) have listed these Colleges of the University of London as ranking among the first 150 Universities not only in the United Kingdom but in the World as follows: University College of London (UCL) as 17th, the LSE as 47th, Kings College as 56th, Queen Mary as 127th and Birkbeck as 149th.
The Complete University Guide (www.thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk/league-tables/rankings?s=Law) have listed these Colleges in the University League Tables as ranking among the top fifteen universities in the United Kingdom for Law, as follows: LSE as 1st, University College of London (UCL) as 4th , Queen Mary as 7th , Kings College as 11th  SOAS as 13th.
This is the assurance that students studying with us have.

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