Q&A – Luís Barreto Xavier, Gonçalo Matias: Católica Global School of Law ‘We have programs tailored to attract people from all over the world’

Luís Barreto Xavier (left) and  Gonçalo Matias

Luís Barreto Xavier and Gonçalo Matias – Católica Global School of Law’s director and deputy director, respectively – are in Macau to establish contacts and partnerships with local institutions.

In an exclusive interview with the Times, they discuss the school’s focus on international legal education and the partnerships they intend to establish in Macau and China.

Founded in 2009 at the Law School of the Catholic University of Portugal, Católica Global School of Law “is becoming an important center of graduate teaching and research in law from a global perspective in Lisbon”, according to promoters. Luís Barreto Xavier and Gonçalo Matias are expected to travel to Shanghai today.

Macau Daily Times (MDT) – Your visit to Macau could lead to the establishment of local partnerships that facilitate the expansion of Católica Global School of Law. Which institutions do you plan to contact during your stay here?

Luís Barreto Xavier (LBX) – We are here to present the activities of Católica Global School of Law to educational institutions. The University of Saint Joseph [which is partly owned by Católica] is our natural partner, but we will also contact other universities. We are also here to make contact with law firms and foundations, like the Rui Cunha Foundation. Basically, we are meeting important institutions in Macau that relate to the activity we develop in Lisbon, which has been attracting international students from around 50 countries. We have programs that are tailored to attract people from all over the world, including China and Macau.    

MDT – What are the concrete plans for Macau? Establishing a delegation here or partnerships with local institutions?

LBX – We are not thinking about a delegation here. We want to cooperate with local institutions. The fundamental idea is to create links that promote Macau students’ attendance of our courses in Lisbon. Today [Wednesday] we also discussed the possibility of sending some of our students to work in Macau, or have some internship experience here. For universities, we have been discussing the possibility of setting up student exchange programs and joint initiatives with local institutions.

MDT – Is there any time frame for the implementation of those plans?

LBX – Our way of working is always that decisions must be made while keeping both feet on the ground – with ambition, but also realistically. Therefore, I think that while some of these initiatives can begin quite soon, others will probably take time.

MDT – You mentioned that the University of Saint Joseph is a ‘natural partner.’ Are there any plans you want to disclose?

LBX – There are some projects by the University of Saint Joseph, but I wouldn’t want to speak in their name  nor in the Catholic University’s name, because I think it may be premature. 

MDT – Does Católica Global School of Law offers only English language courses?

LBX – The Law School of the Catholic University in Lisbon has several programs in Portuguese. The international unit inside the faculty, namely the Global School of Law, has English programs.

MDT – Are those all post-graduate programs?

LBX – We have post-graduate programs – the LL.M [Master of Laws] – which have Anglo-Saxon roots. We have a PhD program in English, which is unique in Portugal, and in the Law degree, which is mainly in Portuguese, we have several academic disciplines in English, which we call Transnational Law and are coordinated by my colleague Gonçalo Matias.   

Gonçalo Matias (GM) – The program [Transnational Law] is not focused on the legal system of any country in particular. It gives the students knowledge about transnational law. It includes introductory subjects in order to understand this issue, which is a new reality but still under construction. Furthermore, it covers more specific themes, such as public law, universalization of  human rights, private law and property rights. It therefore covers several areas of transnational law in English with lecturers who come from the most prestigious universities all over the world.

MDT – Does that type of transnational program have the potential to attract local and mainland Chinese students?

LBX – We already have a batch of students from Macau and a small group from mainland China in the post-graduate program. The interest is already there but we want it to grow.

MDT – What is your opinion of Macau law and its relationship with Portuguese law?

LBX – The idea I have, following these first contacts and the prior knowledge I had, is that it is dynamic, which is very interesting. The Macau law is obviously Portuguese [in origin], but it has developed. There is interest in training new legal experts to work and develop the Macau law so it becomes useful to the development of Macau’s economy. The concrete application of Macau law, which presupposes academic knowledge, is essential, so that it won’t fade when the 50-year transitional period expires [in 2049]. 

GM – On the other hand, we also feel that this legal system makes sense. It doesn’t exist only because it was set up during the transitional period [prior to the handover]. It used to be said that Macau law was condemned to disappear, but it also makes sense in the Chinese and lusophone contexts. This legal system has an added value worth preserving and developing.

MDT – Macau is being positioned as a platform between China and the Portuguese-speaking countries. The previously mentioned Transnational Law has a strategic interest to Macau…

GM – It has, and I think that China has an interest in fostering that relationship. We must not forget that all the lusophone world has a common judicial culture and language. To have Macau serve as a platform, it is also important to have a legal system with a lusophone basis.

Catholic University rector visits Macau

The rector of Catholic University (UCP), Isabel Capeloa Gil, will be visiting Macau until April 27 to meet local civil and ecclesiastic authorities and witness joint initiatives between the University of Saint Joseph and UCP. The rector, who grew up in Macau, is making her first visit to the territory following the inauguration of the new directorate council in October 2016. During the visit, she will discuss new possibilities for cooperation with the region’s universities. According to a UCP press release, the university is developing an internationalization plan and “many students from Macau already attend its courses of Law, Translation, and Portuguese Studies, as well as teacher courses for Portuguese as a Second Language”. UCP is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. 

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