This post has been contributed by Dr Yvonne Jacobs Associate Director: Assessments and Student Lifecycle, Undergraduate Laws.
This year Undergraduate Laws made twenty three First Class awards obtained by students from nine different countries.
Pakistan maintains their position at the top of the First Class league table with a total of nine students. Malaysia came second with four students followed by Sri Lanka, Hong Kong and the UK with two students per country. The remaining First Class students were based in Bangladesh, Canada, Germany and Russia.
Twenty of our First Class students share their experiences of studying for their degree and offer advice to those of you still on your journey.The top performing institution this year is The Institution of Legal Studies (TILS). Four students studying at the Lahore campus obtained firsts and one student from the Islamabad campus.
Saleha Tauqeer studied at TILS (Lahore) and reflects that ‘when it was time to decide what to do my undergraduate degree in I had no idea what I wanted. With a lot of hesitation I decided to enrol in the University of London’s distance learning programme offered by The Institute of Legal Studies. I didn’t know then that I would actually end up liking the subject. This journey has not been one without its ups and downs but what’s gotten me to where I am now is hard work and perseverance. I am forever grateful for the unwavering support and faith of my teachers and my parents that helped me tremendously along the way’.
Minhail Zubair, who also studied at TILS (Lahore), says ‘my achievement has required a lot of hard work. My professors have been very supportive and kind. I have enjoyed learning new legal concepts during every lecture. I would advise every law student to listen to the lectures carefully and focus on learning rather than achieving a certain score in the examinations. All students should cherish every single moment of their lectures because the goal is building concepts not achieving a certain mark. Focus on learning, good marks will follow’.
Mahnoor Waqar from TILS (Lahore) says ‘nothing is unattainable once a person puts their mind to it. In my first year I resolved to graduate with First Class honours and then worked tirelessly towards my goal. The path to success was made much easier by God, and I could not have made it without the constant encouragement and sometimes constructive criticism of my family, teachers and friends. This award is as much theirs as mine’.
Sherbano Malik, also from TILS (Lahore) advises that ‘while practice, persistence and patience are certainly important in achieving one’s academic goals, I learnt that it is equally important to be kind to one’s self. Taking regular breaks and spending time with friends and family is very significant for a student’s mental wellbeing and alleviating exam stress. I am indebted to my teachers, family and friends for helping me attain these results’.
Ramsha Hayat our final First Class student from TILS (Islamabad) says that ‘when I first chose to she enrol in the University of London I was unsure of what to expect; all I knew was that I had a passion for the subject and a desire to excel. The following three years were an absolute whirlwind – one filled with plenty of stress, all nighters and a seemingly never ending pile of coursework. I could never have imagined the roller coaster that my life would become. Despite the ups and downs TILS Islamabad was where I found a family away from home. I cannot express how grateful I am to all my teachers for their endless guidance and support. Without them and my family’s prayers this would not have been possible’.
Amina Malik studied at Pakistan College of Law in Lahore She says ‘my embarkment on my journey towards an LLB (Hons) was always accompanied by a fervent desire for a First Class. I believe the hallmark of a First Class award is that it allows one to gain a more profound appreciation of the study of law. It is not until one truly delves into the remarkable phenomenon that is legal jurisprudence that one understands the historical, sociological and cultural significance of the law and how these aspects play into the writing of a First Class answer, which does not merely reiterate memorized passages, but rather seeks to directly engage with the question asked in a critical and reflective manner’.
Ayma Naseem studied at the Islamabad School of Law. She says ‘there was a piece of advice I received from a teacher at the beginning of this undergraduate programme. I was told to aim for the moon so that even if I miss I may hit a star (quoting William Clement Stone). That is pretty much what I did these past years. I developed an undying commitment to achieve a goal, took strategic actions, learned from my mistakes, kept going despite feeling defeated and celebrated small milestones. My overall result has indeed taught me that self belief and discipline is the key. It is also pertinent to mention that there aren’t enough words in the world to express my sincere appreciation to my family, friends and teachers for providing unflinching support throughout my years of study. Their contribution does not go unnoticed’.
Fatima Mehmood studied at University College Lahore. She says ‘for me, getting to this point was exceptionally difficult because I had to balance it very cautiously with a number of extra curricular activities I was active in throughout my law degree. These included being President of the mooting society and participating in national and international competitions throughout the years. I could not have struck the right balance between all of this without the constant support and encouragement of my family who were there by my side throughout, my friends who never stopped believing in me and my teachers who exemplified dedication and brilliance for me and inspired me to become a better version of myself every single day’.
Rufruf Chaudhary studied at the Themis School of Law in Karachi. She says ‘having achieved this milestone I can finally say that hard work and prayers do work and one should never give up on what you truly believe in. These three years have tremendously prompted me to pursue the legal career further and I could never have come this far without the unconditional support of my family and the excellent teaching skill of Themis School of Law’.
Following Pakistan’s lead in second place in the first league table is Malaysia with four firsts. Two of our Malaysian First Class students studied at ATC and two at Brickfields Asia College.
Elycia Chua studied at Advance Tertiary College (ATC) in Penang. She ‘would like to dedicate this success to my family, friends, and lecturers from both ATC Penang and ATC KL for all their support throughout the years. My decision to enter this course was influenced by my elder brother, who had taken this same course years ago, and it is his success that has spurred me to put in my utmost effort in order to reach this goal’. Elycia says ‘this course has strengthened my confidence in my own abilities and trained me to engage in more critical thinking when analysing situations. The journey here has been arduous, but it is this fact that makes the taste of success that much sweeter’.
Jie Le Wong studied at Advance Tertiary College (ATC) in Kuala Lumpur. She says ‘achieving a First Class award certainly opens up a great deal of opportunities for me in the future and I would like to express my gratitude towards University of London for providing such a challenging programme. I would like to thank my whole family, my friends and my lecturers for their support and guidance throughout my journey in pursuing LLB. Lastly, I would like to share a quote that a kind person once shared with me:
‘The very things that hold you down are going to lift you up’ (Timothy Mouse from Dumbo).
Ho Kai Xin studied at Brickfields Asia College in KL. She says ‘I am pleased that I have pulled through and that all the stress and effort back then have been paid off. A big thank you to UOL for providing valuable resources. I would like to thank all my outstanding lecturers, and those who have accompanied and encouraged me during the whole of my degree. I really could not have achieved without them! This achievement makes me believe that nothing is impossible. Aim high and work hard, what at first seems impossible will become inevitable’.
Zhi Shong Kong also studied at Brickfields Asia College. He reflects ‘I really did not expect such excellent results, given my mediocre 1st and 2nd year performances. Therefore, I adamantly believe that these results are not the product of any exceptional ability on my end, but of the tireless efforts of lecturers at Brickfields Asia College, and of the support and advice given by family and friends; clearly, they knew things that I didn’t and somehow managed to infuse their wisdom in me to be expressed in the exam hall. I maintain that University of London LL.B exams will always be among the most arduous events of my life, though I still found that the associated experience of learning legal subject matter, language and practices to have been an enriching one, intellectually, emotionally and socially. On the whole, I am glad for having studied law.
Our two First Class students from Sri Lanka both studied at the Royal Institute of Colombo:
Daniel Ferdinandusz says that achieving a First Class was always a goal, though it didn’t always seem possible. A key to realising this dream was balancing studies with his sports, music and theatre – while avoiding burnout! Daniel is grateful to his tutors (especially Mr Mahela, Mr Amila, Mr Hashane and Ms Dhanishka) and gives a big shout-out to his study group, batch-mates, friends and family for their constant support, encouragement and prayers; above all he is grateful to God’. Daniel’s advice is: figure out what your most effective study method is, understand, don’t just memorize; and study smart and not just hard!
Dulmini Kulatilake was inspired by three students from Sri Lanka who obtained firsts in the 2015/6 academic year. She says ‘the journey up until today wasn’t an easy task and although it was my dream to get a First Class I never thought it will be a reality. However today I have achieved the best out of the best and it is all thanks to my family, lecturers, tutors and my collegues who guided me and encouraged me to achieve the best even when I lost hopes on myself. A special thanks also goes to the Ede & Ravenscroft scholarship which funded my LLB. Today I’m one among the few First Class holders in the world and tomorrow it could be you! Hard work and the novel thinking would pave your path as of mine so get a goal, aim it and achieve it!’.
Our First Class student from Bangladesh studied at London College of Legal Studies (South).
Safura Mahbub says ‘my journey to achieving a First Class award in LLB (Hons) has been like a roller coaster ride with several ups and downs. At times I was completely overwhelmed with the fear of failure, which in the end worked as a huge motivation for me to work even harder. My biggest inspiration is my parents who have always believed in me and encouraged me to pursue my dreams. My deepest gratitude goes to the faculty members of LCSL (South), the University of London Programme team, my parents and my sister for their constant support and guidance. I believe through hard work, determination and perseverance you can certainly achieve your dreams’.
Our First Class student from Russia studied at the Continuing Education Faculty of the Russian University of Justice.
Tatiana Gillan says ‘My First Class degree turned out to be both a wonderful surprise and a great achievement. It is my Olympic gold medal. I didn’t develop any magical abilities that allowed me to succeed. I just did my best and hoped my efforts would be rewarded. I would say one needs three ingredients for this degree – first one’s studies should be one’s first priority. I sacrificed my holidays, time with friends and family and many other things; secondly one needs to be mentally and physically healthy – take care of yourself; thirdly the support of family and friends is vital. I am very thankful to my husband, my colleagues and my parents. It is a great honour to graduate from this august institution and a wonderful privilege. I would like to thank the University of London and associated staff in Moscow for their help during my studies. Thank you all so very much’.
We had three First Class students on the graduate-entry LLB.
Our first graduate-entry student studied independently in Canada.
Serdar Kalaycioglu says ‘it has been an amazing learning experience. I loved every single course offered as part of the LLB programme and I recommend anyone who is interested in practicing common law or improving his/her understanding of legal issues and some complex concepts at common law as well as critical analysis and decision making capabilities. Prior to my studies on the LLB I held a PhD in Mechanical Engineering, MBA and LLM degrees. The LLB courses provided me with a complete understanding of the common law principles and theories. I am so proud to be part of such a world-class institution and grateful to have access to such world leading professors in their respective fields, very well structured study guides and on-line VLE support material’.
Our two final graduate First Class students studied at the Hong Kong School of Professional and Continuing Education (HKU SPACE).
Jason Wong shared a photo that will look familiar to many of you! He says ‘the photo reminded me of the struggle and confusion 1.5 months before the exam this year. It was tough when you get bogged down unexpectedly by work for a long period of time. Sometimes you have to sacrifice part of your study plan but never sacrifice your determination and you may be in for a nice surprise’.
Calvin Chong, our final First Class student from HKU SPACE says ‘reading law with the University of London has been a rewarding experience for me: I get to explore a completely different system of knowledge and reasoning as I cruised through my three years of studies with the University. I wish to acknowledge the outstanding quality of teaching provided at HKU SPACE without which it would be been impossible for me to get this first-class award’.
Our final First Class student studied in Jersey in the Channel Islands.
Zoe Beer says, ‘My journey to studying at the University of London began after I completed the International Baccalaureate Diploma at Hautlieu School, Jersey in the Channel Islands. Whilst I knew I would have to work extremely hard for the LLB Law Degree, I didn’t anticipate how interesting and fulfilling it would be. Throughout my Law Degree, the most difficult decision I had to make was whether to study for an additional exam or write a dissertation of which I decided on the latter. The dissertation gave me a fantastic opportunity to finesse my legal writing and legal research skills. I am thoroughly excited to take the breadth of legal knowledge that I have acquired during the Law Degree on to the next stage of my legal career where I will be working as a Trainee Solicitor. Above all, I am very appreciative of the support of my parents and those closest to me who have never for a second doubted my ability and who have inspired me to succeed.
Congratulations to all our First Class students from 2017-18. Thank you to all of the students, above, who have shared their experiences with us. I hope that these will provide motivation, inspiration and guidance to those of you who are still on your journey towards completing your degree. For those of you who have successfully completed your degree this year, I hope that each and every one of you is proud of your achievement and take time to celebrate this with your family, friends, teachers, fellow students and those that have supported you and contributed to your achievement.