This post has been contributed by Lucy Bodenham, Web Content Officer, University of London.
Joining our latest new cohort of laws scholarship students at Senate House for a catch up with Simon Askey, Dean, Undergraduate Laws, I spoke to Chan Jing Luu from Malaysia about his once in life-time opportunity and his experience so far at King’s College, University of London.
Chan hails from Kajang in Malaysia. He started his journey at the affiliated teaching centre Brickfields Asia College (BAC) completing his A Levels and then went on to study the Bachelor of Laws at this centre. After his first year he was awarded the LLB scholarship to study in London on campus at King’s College, a member institution. This is Chan’s first visit to the capital and when I spoke to him he was just starting his second month.
What influenced you to study the undergraduate laws programme, was it a mentor, or something else to do with your choice? Honestly my first choice was to become a vet. Due to allergies I had to give up my first option. At the time I was quite lost so my parents encouraged me; ‘why don’t you take an aptitude test to see which career suits you?’ Surprisingly I scored eight out of ten for law, so I just decided to give it a try.
And then the reason why I choose to study the LLB degree through the University of London, is that the English system is one of the most prominent jurisdictions in the world and the legal principles are not always clear cut, you must be able to connect all the legal principles behind the cases and to make sense of the whole picture.
Did you research the University of London to find out what subjects the programme specialised in and some of the things you mentioned? Yes before I made a decision to pursue a law degree with University of London I consulted my local college. They offered a UK transfer programme law degree and also had the University of London programme. One of the main concerns was the price of course because my parents didn’t have sufficient funding for me to join the UK programme so price was the main concern.
When did you hear about the LLB scholarship and what was your reaction on receiving it? I think it was the start of August this year I received a phone call from Mr Simon Askey and I was really, really shocked. Simon called me and introduced himself as the Dean of Undergraduate Laws at University of London. When I submitted my application form for the scholarship I didn’t think I will get it. I convinced myself the most important thing for me was to perform well in the May sitting paper and don’t think about the scholarship first.
Is there any particular reason why you picked the University of London? I think the most important thing is that this programme really caters to external students, the University provided comprehensive reading materials such as subject guides and the Virtual Learning Environment on the Student Portal where you can access a whole range of past year questions and examination reports.
I asked Chan how the scholarship had benefited him as a person. Chan is articulate and engaging, giving no clues as to his prior transformation from mouse to tiger. He said he used to be uncomfortable about sharing his thoughts and opinions with other people. I used to be a very timid person. This scholarship somehow or other helped me to overcome this barrier. At King’s College the lecturers encourage you to be an active speaker rather than a passive learner. So I think this scholarship has boosted my confidence, and I am more comfortable in expressing my own opinions and thought.
We debate a lot in tutorials and before every tutorial class the lecturers will give you a whole list of reading materials you have to evaluate the materials and structure your own argument. After that you are expected to present those arguments in front of your friends. Yes, I like the clash of ideas. You can take into consideration people’s ideas and different perspectives. You can solve a particular problem from various angles. So I think that is very good.
You said you enjoy being on campus, being at Somerset House which is near the Royal Courts of Justice, what is the best part of studying at King’s College? I think it is a lifetime honour obviously. I have the opportunity to learn under the guidance of leading academics. They wrote text books, they wrote journals and articles so when I approach a particular question I can ask straight away what they mean when they wrote this sentence and how does it affect the law.
How is studying abroad different from studying in your home country in Malaysia? In terms of teaching and studying you are encouraged to speak more. In Malaysia you tend to be a more passive learner and when you have a question you tend to be shy to ask. Here you just shout it out and then the tutor will answer the question. Another thing is the focus on independent learning, which gives an element of empowerment.
What do you think is the most challenging part of your studies at the moment? I think the main challenge here is the learning and teaching method I mentioned earlier. Another thing is that I have to learn how to be independent because back in Malaysia my parents used to settle everything for me. And studying in a foreign country there is no comfort zone, you just have to take up the challenge. You just break the barrier.
Would you recommend studying this degree through the University of London to other people? Yes of course, because of the quality of the education in order to succeed in the programme you are not only expected to work hard, but you also have to be more independent.
Do you have any advice for other students who might be considering the LLB and do you have any tips? I think the University of London programme is a very rewarding programme. If you are willing to work hard and work strategically you will ace the programme and the reward is superb like the Undergraduate Laws scholarship. It is once in a lifetime opportunity.
Are you doing any voluntary work, any extra activities or joined legal societies? I have joined the KCL Law Pro Bono Society, the law mentor programme.This is a mentoring programme where it have three mentees under me.
How do you mentor the other people? They will email me questions about the application, aspiring law students who are going to apply for a place in King’s. So they will email me about the whole application process.
It’s about your experience in law and what is your best advice that you can give if I consider to be a barrister or a solicitor, so I will cater to their needs and answer their questions after I refer to some important information. This helps me to pick up effective communication skills so I ensure others understand what I am trying to convey. And then I also joined the KC Malaysia society and as well as the KC Law Block Chains.
What are your plans once you finish the programme? I know you are at the beginning, going forward, how many years will you study for? One year and nine months. After that I plan to apply for the bar course to receive more practical advocacy course that will prepare you to face the future legal world. And then I also consider my other option perhaps I will pursue a master’s degree, not certain yet. I also plan to do and internship this coming summer holiday in Malaysia, for one of the law firms in Malaysia.
What do you think you might specialise in, is there anything that particularly interests you? After I did my first year on the programme I found public law really interesting. And then recently the UK Supreme Court just landed two significant judgements. The first one was the Miller’s case, Miller against Secretary of State for Exiting European Union. That was in 2017 and the recent one was Miller against the Prime Minister. So I think these two cases are really significant in the development of the UK public law, which is quite rare in Malaysia.
Is there anything else you would like to add about your experience studying through the University of London? I would like to thank the University of London again because of this scholarship it is a lifetime opportunity to study in such a prestigious university in the UK.