I feel like I’ve caught back up on my sleep now. After a nice breakfast at the hotel with Katie, we were picked up and taken to the USAID office about 15 block from the hotel. The office is in a newer building near a beautiful white Easter Orthadox church. The church, or temple has a copper domed roof that is still shinny and bright, as it was install just a couple of years ago. Once in the office I was able to meet the office staff, including Tanya the office administrator, and Inas, the liason with the Law Schools. We were also joined by Vladimir, who is the Serbian Contractor (in the picture with me) who maintains the NCCS office network. All the Serbians who work in the office speak excellent english.
Our first visit of the day was to the Belgrade Law School. The School is home to about 3000 students. In the picture to the side you can see the two computers that are available for the students to use. Incredible! They are in the process of converting one of their reading rooms into a computer lab with 35 seats. With our help, that will raise their computer to student ratio from 1/1500 to 1/85 (as opposed to our 1/10 ratio at the Uvic Law Faculty). To make matters worse, very few students have access to a computer and internet at home, so it computers are not available at school, they don’t have access to on-line legal resources. The good news is that their network infrastructure is in good shape, and that their access to the internet (through a government funded research network) is also quite fast. They have a knowledgeable network administrator who is struggling to do his best with the resources available to him. Most faculty members have computers in their offices, and research assistants have access to a small computer lab (6 workstations) so that they can do on line research when necessary. I was also able to visit with the vice dean, and we discussed how valuable it would be to be able to give her students access to on line legal resources such as Westlaw UK, Lexus/Nexus and Hein-Online. One interesting note, is that students are not allowed to roam the stacks and take books out on their own. If a students wants a book (an this is standard practise at Universities in Serbia), they request the book from a librarian, and then the librarian goes and gets the book for them, and checks it out in the student’s name. Quite an ordeal to get a book. Searching for materials on line will make the students feel like they have died and gone to heaven. The visit was productive, and enlightening at the same time. While they have very few student accessible computers, they have laid the groundwork to make installing those computers quite easily.
Then we grabbed a taxi and went to the Belgrade Business Law School (a new private school). We first met with the Law Librarian. All the books in their three year old law school fit in one room about 20 feet by 15 feet wide. Truly amazing. There current computer situation is somewhat better than the Belgrade Law School as they have 60 student computers shared between 3000 students (1000 law students, and the others from two other faculties in the same building). All students are given a network user name and password. Next we met with the Dean of the Law School and found out that the Law Faculty would be moving to a new building in October, so they would be setting up a computer lab in that new location (with between 30 and 40 workstations). We have arranged to see to the new building on Monday to get a feel for the size of the new computer lab, and how we can help them with Computer Hardware and networking equipment. Their current network is in very good shape, and they have at least two competent network administrators. They will hire an additional network administrator for their new building. The dean also expressed a keen interest in being able to access Westlaw UK, Lexus/Nexus and Hein-Online (I think this will be a reoccurring theme on my Faculty visits). I am have been told that infrastructure, hardware and network support at the Business Law School is probably the best in the country for law schools.