School of Law. Name of the Nova University Law School considered illegal

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Minister Elvira Fortunato declared illegal the use of the name, only in English, of the NOVA Law School. The institution says it has not yet been notified of the decision and that the change was published in Diário da República.

In 2021, Professor Jorge Bacelar Gouveia filed a complaint about the change of the name of the Faculty of Law of Universidade Nova de Lisboa (FDUNL) to English – “NOVA School of Law”. At the time, he tells DN, “internal, unwritten guidance was given for the change”. “Then all references in Portuguese disappeared”, recalls Jorge Bacelar Gouveia. Two years later, the professor believed that “the subject had died”. “Two weeks ago I received information that an opinion was approved, from 2021, which considered it illegal to exclude the designation in Portuguese. The opinion was in the ministry for two years and now it has been considered illegal, so it is not possible to use only the name in English”, he explains.

The document to which DN had access cites an opinion issued on July 28, 2021 – and approved by the Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education, Elvira Fortunato, on the 4th of this month – in which it is considered “illegal” the “exclusive use of English in the name of the Faculty of Law of the New University of Lisbon”.

To DN, the lawyer said he understood “to publicly disclose what was happening when the faculty changed its statutes and assumed the new designation in English”. Bacelar Gouveia also warns of the existence of more similar cases of changes in the name of faculties for designations in English. “This behavior violates article 10, paragraph 1, of the RJIER (Legal Regime of Higher Education Institutions), which considers that higher education institutions must have their own characteristic name, in Portuguese, which identifies them, in an unequivocal way, without prejudice to the joint use of versions of the name in foreign languages. What is officially registered are only names in Portuguese, there is not even a double designation “, he maintains. The jurist also points out that the designation “NOVA School of Law” is widespread on official pages and documents and even on the “Wikipedia website”.

The professor fears that these changes may raise legal problems, calling into question FDUNL’s own registration as a higher education establishment. “After this decision, I hope that the entities that oversee legality in Portugal – legality in general and, above all, university legality – will act on those who are responsible for such anti-legal (unconstitutional and illegal) conduct or who were conniving with its dissemination and execution”, he stresses.

Jorge Bacelar Gouveia regrets the “unpatriotic” attitude, based “on the too elementary reasoning that university internationalization can be done, somewhat magically, by simply changing the nomenclature of higher education institutions to English”. “In this regard, I would remind you that, for reasons of preserving national identity, legislation is beginning to emerge that imposes limits on the use of foreign languages in the teaching of higher education courses, as has happened in the Netherlands, just as it is becoming practice – in Germany, for example – to oblige that the national language be spoken by at least half of the speakers at international colloquia”, he concludes.

Questioned by DN, NOVA University Lisbon says it is unaware of the decision of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education, and has not yet been notified of the decision. “NOVA School of Law has a name in Portuguese and, more recently, as with the other organic units of NOVA, it also has a name in English. Its name in Portuguese is “NOVA University Lisbon School of Law”. Its English name is “NOVA School of Law”. There is therefore no legal nonconformity in the designation in use at NOVA School of Law”, clarifies the communication office. A source from the same office also states that “legal requirements” are being met, and that “no measure in this regard or that changes any procedure in force” is required.

In the reply, it adds that the adoption of English nomenclatures was made with the other Organic Units of Universidade Nova and published in Diário da República (2nd series, February 6, 2020): Faculty of Science and Technology/NOVA School of Science and Technology; Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities/NOVA School of Social Sciences and Humanities; Faculty of Economics/NOVA SBE – School of Business and Economics; Faculty of Medical Sciences/NOVA Medical School; Faculty of Law/NOVA School of Law; Institute of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine/NOVA Institute of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine; Instituto Superior de Estatística e Gestão da Informação/NOVA IMS – Information Management School; ITQB NOVA – Instituto de Tecnologia Química e Biológica António Xavier/ITQB NOVA – Institute of Chemical and Biological Technology António Xavier and Escola Nacional de Saúde Pública/NOVA National School of Public Health.

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