Er-Kai was born in Beijing in China and came to Australia in 1987. She is a solicitor and registered migration agent. Her background has been in disability, human rights, anti-discrimination and employment law. She has worked as a public servant and lawyer in various Commonwealth, State and community organisations.
Er-Kai began working for ANU in July 2010 first in its Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice (GDLP) program and now in the Migration Law Program as a Lecturer. She teaches in the Graduate Certificate in Australian Migration Law & Practice program, and in the Master of Laws (Migration) program. She is the Fellow of the Higher Education Academy - a UK based body that supports the improvement of teaching quality.
Er-kai also provides pro bono migration advice at the Legal Aid ACT Migration Service - the only regular pro bono migration advice service in Canberra - and has done so since 2011.
Please note, only a small selection of recent publications and activities are listed below.
Conference papers & presentations
- Presented a conference paper on Australian migration law at Globalisation and Imagination: the 13th International Conference of Australian Studies in China held on 6 – 8 July 2012 in Xihua University, Chengdu, Sichuan, China.
- Presented a conference paper on teaching Australian migration law online at the International Conference on Education, Economic, Psychology and Society (ICEEPS conference) held in July 2013, Beijing, China.
Philosophy & approach
'The secret of education lies in respecting the student' - Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1803 – 1882, American essayist, lecturer and poet.
Learning and teaching is about living. For most of my life, education has been an essential part of what I did – whether it is being a student or a teacher – and respect travels both ways. As a student, I respect my teachers’ dedication, commitment and willingness to share knowledge. As a teacher, I respect my students’ enthusiasms, discipline and willingness to learn. Teaching law is my passion. In many ways, teaching law is no different from teaching any other discipline. It is about bringing out the best qualities of every student and take them on a journey of wonder and fascination. Teaching ought to start with respecting the student, for who they are, what they are, the life experiences they have had and what they aspire to for the future. I value knowledge. I challenge students to obtain and develop the breadth and depth of their knowledge through vigorous discussions, critical analysis, independent and collaborative research in the highly specialised and complex area of migration law. This is important because Australian migration law is at the heart of nation building for this country. What I am doing is training migration law professionals who will be at the forefront of everyday practice, law reform, policy making and even law making.
I currently teach the Graduate Certificate in Australian Migration Law program. Newly enrolled students often underestimate the fast pace and intensity of the courses. They need to apply a great deal of discipline, commitment, diligence and persistence in order to succeed in this program. Knowing the legal rules and what is in the legislation or case law is only part of the challenge. Understanding the connection and relationship, between provisions within the migration legislation and between migration law and other areas of law such as employment law, criminal law, family law, taxation, etc is also vitally important and it takes time and practice to develop this understanding. That is why I take students through steps of critical analysis and problem solving where, they identify the issues, identify relevant law and then apply the law.
I value building a strong learning community in which students are supported, nurtured and encouraged. Learning is inherently a human experience and needs to be crafted as such. The physical distances created by online learning should not be seen as a barrier of productive learning, rather it should be an open door for more innovative ways of learning. In the beginning, some students may feel alienated or disoriented in an online environment simply because they are not familiar with it. In this student-centred learning model (constructivist approach), I am always responsive and supportive to student needs – guiding and leading students to explore learning themselves.
I value the practice of reflective and critical analysis of my teaching and learning experience. By reflecting and close examination of positive and negative experiences, I am able to identify areas which require improvement, strengthening or a complete re-evaluation of focus, purpose and/or approach. This reflective process can be for short term or long term, it can also be an independent survey by teachers and students or be built as part of course review or re-evaluation process. I have actively participated in a number of formal and informal review processes. The annual or half yearly performance review, teacher review days, end of session student survey etc provide opportunity for this to occur.
Teaching and learning is also a life-long experience. What we teach now will have a long lasting effect on the student and be taken into the future one way or the other – just as the famous American historian Henry Adams (1838 – 1918) once told us ‘A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops’.
2010 – now
Course convenor and lecturer in Australian Migration Law and Practice program for postgraduate courses, ANU College of Law
Course convenor and lecturer in Master of Laws (Migration Law) – LLM – Family in Australian Migration Law course commencing in July 2016