Laura McKoy

Laura is studying the Master of Laws at the University of Melbourne

“I am a bit of a worrier, so when I hit upon the notion that I wanted to study in Australia my excitement was tempered with concerns. Thankfully, with some planning and lot of support from Study Options my concerns were resolved and the only remaining problem was which clothes, shoes and books would make up my 23kg flight allowance!

“First concern: Where should I go and what should I do? Having studied law as an undergraduate I was fascinated by global issues such as human rights, armed conflicts in the world and Islamic Law. Having strong relations with (and being relatively close to) South East Asia, Australia is the perfect place to work with experts in these subjects. The University of Melbourne’s LLM programme is taught by professors who have first-hand experience of the law – advisers in the International Criminal Court or staff from the defence forces who have fought in armed conflicts, for example. When looking at institutions and courses, it really helps to look at who will be teaching you (and who you will be working with).

“Second concern: How am I going to pay for it? With over £20,000 of student debt from my first degree at Cambridge I did not have a pot of gold sitting under my bed! When looking for funding, try various trusts, scholarships and grant bodies. Speak (and write) to your undergraduate university’s career service; banks; your MP; your Australian university; local businesses who work in your field; your local authority and the local library, which has a guide of local grant making trust funds. I was lucky enough to get an Endeavour Award from the Australian Government and a grant from a local trust fund – they are definitely worth applying for. Study Options also advised me of some part-time jobs in Melbourne. If you are a postgraduate student you may be able to work for a university or college as a tutor. I tutor law to undergrad students at International House College, which is affiliated to the University of Melbourne. This not only boosts your CV and leads to a greater understanding of your own subject, but means you have an income during your stay.

“Third concern: Where will I live? If you fancy living in a community environment it is worth looking at residential colleges, which are affiliated to a university – these are a great way of meeting lots of people. Alongside teaching law at a college I am also a residential tutor; this allowed me to secure accommodation before I left for Australia. Alternatively, your new university will help you find somewhere to live through their accommodation service.

“Last concern: What am I going to do in my spare time and how will I make friends? Living in a college environment is great for undergraduates and postgraduates to make lots of friends and have a full social calendar. Universities also host hundreds of events at the start of the semester for students to meet each other, on the beach or alongside a barbecue. I have made some very good friends in class and through my extra-curricular activities – you would be hard-pushed to find surfing clubs or Aboriginal art classes in the UK!

“Despite all my worries, coming to Australia to do my masters degree is the best decision I have made so far. Initially there are many considerations to make, but with planning and a lot of support the dream became my reality.”