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Groningen introduces Law & ICT program.

The 21st century is dictated by Information and Computer Technology (ICT) throughout virtually all domains. The financial sector is known for its great innovative power, whether it be doubtful products or not. On the other hand medicine is widely considered to be conservative, just like is law. With the new Law & ICT (under)graduate program in Groningen, the conservatism seems to be diminishing.
Saturday, March 26, 2011

Nowadays companies use ICT solutions in virtually every department and throughout their whole revenue cycle. Industrial sectors, but in particular service providers are driven by ICT and would otherwise not exist. Think of the banks that use complex information systems to predict stock prices and manage financial products. As a matter of fact, the financial sector is one of the most innovative sectors today, but thanks to ICT¹. Without ICT, calculating the Dow-Jones index every minute would be an awful job and rendering every second would be impossible.

Multidiscipline and ICT

With ICT strengthening its grip on different domains, the demand for specialists in ICT and another related domain is rising. Company departments are excited to recruit a multidisciplinary specialist, one of the domains being at least ICT (advisory and/or management).

According to the free market, the economic theory of the ‘invisible hand’ and other economic principles, this rising demand would increase supply. It is to be expected universities and colleges are smart enough to act accordingly, but nothing is less true: now universities appear to be conservative.

The importance of ICT is often underestimated, but not by Finland. In the overview of ‘Finland as a Knowledge Economy’, published by the World Bank Institute² the following is stated: “It is the use of ICT – not necessarily its production – that is decisive for long-term economic growth”.

The publication emphasizes the following: “In contrast, in higher education, economic trends and the demand for certain skills have played significant roles in education policy. The expansion of the Finnish higher education system has followed and supported the course of economic development.”

Law & ICT

It is well-known that medicine, but in particular law is very conservative and change very slowly. For medicine the techniques used are dictated by the rapidly improving technology, but it is the organizational-side which lags behind (e.g. hierarchy). Now, the University of Groningen (RUG) is introducing both an undergraduate and a graduate program in Law & ICT.

According to an official the university “is acting on the rising demand of law-students and lawyers that have a significant knowledge of ICT and its implications in both the use of it in legislation, but also how to use ICT in practicing law”.

The program mostly resembles the already existing program in Dutch Law and educates students to become a barrister. Additionally, Law & ICT offers specialized courses regarding ICT, but from two different perspective. The first perspective is all about the legal issues regarding ICT, like cybercrime. The other aspect is all about how ICT can support the practice of law using information and communication systems (IS) and even decision support systems (DSS) and knowledge management.

Groningen understands, ESE remains ignorant

With this stunt, the University of Groningen is trying to exploit the rise in noticed demand, while other universities have no interest in being market-oriented. This you would not expect from an School of Economics like the Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) that terminated their unique program in Economics & Informatics (E&I) back in 2008. The ESE, being all about economics, should better than anyone understand how demand and supply works and how to exploit it.

Very recent developments at the ESE include the termination of the MSc program in Economics & ICT, a program that has delivered many successful graduates in different sectors like banking, transportation and government. A significant amount of E&I-students started their own business in order to deliver all kinds of ICT-solutions to eager companies.

More information on Law & ICT at Groningen, can be found here for the BSc program and here for the MSc program.

¹ Dr. Annette Schaven (Federal Minister of Education and Research, Germany) ICT 2020 – Research for Innovations (2007)
     ”Science and industry must cooperate even more closely in the future in order to exploit this potential to the full.”

¹ Vaithilingm, S., Nair, M. and Samudram M. 2006. Key drivers for soundness of the banking sector: Lessons for developing countries.
      Journal of Global Business and Technology, Vol. 2, Number 1.”

² Dahlman, C. J., Routti, J., Ylä-Anttila, P. 2006. Finland as a Knowledge Economy: Elements of Success and Lessons Learned.

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