Today I will do an article on foreign students and tomorrow I will talk about LLBs.
My JD experience would not have been such a positive experience without foreign students. Older candidates tend to be minority and tends to get sidelined due to the generation gap. This makes them excellent partners with foreign students who can also be marginalised but for different reasons.
a) Group work grading makes it hard for a foreign JD student to fit in.
The problems faced by foreign students are institutionalised into the SMU education system. Singapore students who get into law school are straight-A students (in both Universities) who have high expectations on themselves and others.
Coming from a different culture and university, foreign students are unlikely to be used to the dedication and fervour that locals are used to so over the years have developed a reputation for being slackers. Foreigners from particular countries might also be prejudiced for not having English as their first language.
It does not help if some seniors advise juniors in any program to stick to locals because the locals still have a better reputation for getting shit done. The Russian hacking scandal in SMU which affected my exam scripts does not help because locals might just lump all foreign students into the same 'slacker' category.
b) Foreign JD students do buck up after a semester or two.
The problem is that locals are too quick to condemn and a bad reputation sticks for foreign students. It's actually quite hard for a foreign student to qualify for the JD and every batch has only around 4-5 of them.
They do catch up after a while and do so in fairly remarkable ways because they are quite smart and streetwise to begin with.
Most group collaborations I have with foreign students are successful because we are able to come up with novel solutions to unconventional problems. The dividends paid by having group diversity will pay off if someone is patient enough to tap them.
c) Fortunately, the foreign JD students will get the last laugh in the legal industry
Life is unfair and will continue to be so regardless of the wishes of the rigid, neurotic Generation Y local.
The economic downturn for lawyers does not affect foreign students. They are prized for their language skills, rarity and possibly the ability to attract more business for their companies. Many are able to join the more prestigious law firms with moderate grades.
Before I end, I'd like to give out some not-so-nice comments on Foreign Exchange students which can be a nightmare for our LLBs to deal with. Not all of these students come from reputable universities and many are here to party in Bali and Phuket. I have never heard of a happy or successful collaboration from my LLB friends and University administration really needs to look into the academic disadvantages of being paired with a foreign exchange student in campus. Perhaps those who who only need to pass a module should be segregated for marking purposes so that local students would not be so terrified of them.
NUS was the same 20 years ago. A bunch of foreign students were unable to take their final exams because they lost their passports in Thailand, got a failing grade and were sent home in disgrace.