Student Profile: Savio Baptista, LLB Candidate, University of Strathclyde

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What is your name and country of origin?

My name is Savio Baptista and I am from Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Tell us briefly about your educational background

First, I graduated from York University with an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Law and Society in 2010. Later on, I graduated from Seneca College of Applied Arts and Technology with an Ontario College Diploma in Law Clerk in 2014.

What are you studying?

I am studying law in the LLB (Scots & English) (Graduate Entry) program at the University of Strathclyde.

Why did you choose to study at the University of Strathclyde?

While researching graduate-entry LLB programmes in the UK, I was captivated by the University of Strathclyde’s law school and its degree programmes. In particular, the Dual Qualifying Accelerated (Scots and English Law) programme stood out amongst other graduate-entry LLB programmes, since it allows an individual to gain an in-depth understanding of both English and Scottish legal systems.

How would you describe the University of Strathclyde?

At Strathclyde, students will greatly benefit from the quality of teaching. The manner in which lectures are delivered opens the door to deeper learning. I myself have consistently been challenged since I am required to be innovative, and think more critically as I go through my course work and assignments.

Have you been a member of any student clubs or societies within the University of Strathclyde?

During my first year as a law student, I served as an Editorial Board Member with the Strathclyde Student Law Review. In this position, I was required to read, critically analyze, and edit submitted articles and book reviews. In addition, I served as the Halls Vice Convener/President (Collegelands) for the University of Strathclyde Halls Committee. As a committee member, I took part in planning student events, and served as a liaison between the University of Strathclyde, University Of Strathclyde Students’ Association, Residence Services, and students living on residence.

Currently, I am the Editor-In-Chief of the Strathclyde Student Law Review. In this role, I am in charge of putting together the annual publication of the Strathclyde Student Law Review, and overseeing all duties and responsibilities of the Editorial Board Members.

What has been your experience living in Student Halls?

The staff members at Strathclyde were extremely helpful when I was applying for my student housing. From the beginning, my questions were always answered in a timely manner, and my interactions with staff members never left me with a feeling of uncertainty.

My advice to international students is to strongly consider living in Student Halls during the first year of study. First of all, it is a great way to meet people within your course and others who also attend the University of Strathclyde. The student accommodations also provide students with access to various facilities that they will need throughout the academic year.

What are you hoping to do post-graduation?

Following the completion of my law degree, I plan to pursue a career as a real estate lawyer. As a real estate lawyer, I would be expected to have a strong understanding of the law in areas, such as property law and contract law. Secondly, I will need to possess a range of skills in order to successfully handle the legal aspects of residential and commercial real estate transactions. Such knowledge and skills will be developed as I undertake courses in law school so that I will eventually be able to think like a lawyer.

What advice would you give to prospective students?

Applying to the UK for higher education is a lengthy process, and there are also various costs to consider. Based on my experience, I would strongly recommend getting in touch with a representative from Future Project. The Future Project team will work closely with you, and provide an in-depth understanding of the application process.

How did Future Project assist you during the application process?

The Future Project team was really helpful when I needed to apply for my student visa. I was provided with clear instructions on how to proceed with my Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) number once I accepted my offer of admission from the University of Strathclyde.

Were you awarded any scholarships?

Yes, I was awarded Scotland’s Saltire Scholarship. This is a scholarship awarded by the Scottish Government for successfully demonstrating that Scotland is the ideal destination to pursue higher education.

How did you hear about the scholarship?

I learned about this scholarship opportunity through the University of Strathclyde and Future Project.

In what ways has this scholarship had a significant impact on your life?

As a Saltire Scholar, I received an invitation from the Minister for Learning, Science and Scotland’s Languages to attend a reception welcoming all Saltire Scholarship recipients to Scotland.

This event took place at Edinburgh Castle. It was truly a night to remember since it was the first time I had visited Edinburgh, which is the capital of Scotland. As well, I got the opportunity to go on a private tour of the castle. These experiences would not have been possible without the Saltire Scholarship Programme.

Are international students permitted to work part-time in the UK?

If you wish to work part-time during your studies, then I would recommend applying for your National Insurance Number as soon as you arrive in the UK. In my experience, the process for obtaining the National Insurance Number was relatively quick.

I currently work as a Residential Accommodation Assistant at my residence. There are also numerous part-time job opportunities available on campus and within the Glasgow City Centre. However, it is important to keep in mind that your student visa will only permit you to work up to a maximum of 20 hours per week during each school term.

So, you missed the UCAS equal consideration deadline – now what?

What is the UCAS equal consideration deadline? It is the deadline to assure that your application is considered before international seats are filled.

Can you still apply? Yes, but keep in mind that institutions do not guarantee to consider applications they receive after the January 15th deadline, and some popular degree subjects may not have any space left -check with Future Project to confirm if you can still apply.

What does that mean? It means that we recommend you get in touch with us and complete your application as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.

What should you do now? Get in touch with Future Project and let us know when you plan to complete your application.

Remember to allow enough time for entry clearance (student visa application), as well as for travel and accommodation arrangements, which can take longer during summer months when immigration offices are busy.

We will do everything we can to assist you but do ask that you keep us informed. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact us at 1-888-506-2257 or admin@futureproject.ca.

We look forward to hearing from you!

 

How to read the UK university rankings that matter

If you’re confused about the different rankings for universities in the United Kingdom, here is some non-comprehensive guidance to help make sense of what’s out there.

With so many different rankings available, how should you decide which one to use? After graduation you will likely do what I do and choose the ranking that is most favourable to your alma mater. As a prospective student, the answer is unfortunately not as easy to answer.

To help, I’ve compiled some of the rankings I believe are worth reviewing as you make your decision. Keep in mind that rankings alone are not sufficient to choose where you will study but do serve a useful purpose in the decision making process.

 

QS World University Rankings are published by British Quacquarelli Symonds each year in September. The QS rankings assess 3,000 universities and give individual positions to the top 400 globally.

QS ranked universities are compared against each other in four areas – research, teaching, employability, and international outlook. Each area is then assessed against six relevant indicators: academic reputation based on a global survey of academics (40 per cent), employer reputation based on a global survey of graduate employers (10 per cent), faculty to student ratio (20 per cent), citations per faculty member (20 per cent), international student ratio (5 per cent), and international staff ratio (5 per cent).

QS also releases rankings by subject and faculty, which can be more useful than a broader look at an entire institution.

 

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings provide a comprehensive list of global universities. Times Higher Education assesses 13 performance indicators to provide fair comparisons. are the only global performance tables that judge research-intensive universities across all their core missions: teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook.

The basic methodology for this year’s rankings is similar to that employed since the 2011-12 tables, but important changes have been made to the underlying data.

The performance indicators are grouped into five areas: teaching (the learning environment), research (volume, income and reputation), citations (research influence), international outlook (staff, students and research), and industry income (knowledge transfer).

Universities are excluded from the World University Rankings if they do not teach under-graduates or if their research output amounted to fewer than 200 articles per year over the five-year period 2010-14. In exceptional cases, institutions below the 200-paper threshold are included if they have a particular focus on disciplines with generally low publication volumes, such as engineering or the arts.

Note: because of changes in the underlying data, you should avoid direct comparisons with previous years’ rankings.

 

The Times and Sunday Times were compiled by Mayfield Consultants until 2007 when Exeter Enterprises, a subsidiary of the University of Exeter took over the responsibility. Similarities remain in both these sets of tables, although with each year that passes there is greater divergence within their methodologies. The Sunday Times and The Times published separate tables until September 2013, when they compiled a combined ranking for the first time.

The tables can be interactive and are put into perspective by surrounding text thus allowing users to generate their own bespoke tables based on their individual preferences. In most cases, there is a cost to gain access to the tables. The guide book published by The Times and the Sunday Times has always carried a price tag and this has been joined by a pay wall on their newspaper sites. Thus, their web tables can now only be viewed in their entirety on payment of a fee.

 

The Complete University Guide (CUG) is provided by Mayfield University Consultants and published each year in April. CUG uses nine criteria with a statistical technique called the Z-transformation applied to the results of each.

The Z-scores are weighted by 1.5 for student satisfaction; by 1.0 for entry standards, research assessment, graduate prospects, student-staff ratio, good honours and degree completion; and by 0.5 for research intensity, academic services spend and facilities spend. These are summed to give a total score for each university, which are then transformed to a scale where the top score is set at 1,000, with the remainder being a proportion of the top score.

The criteria include data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency on academic services expenditure, completion rate, entry standards and graduate prospects, and student satisfaction from the National Survey of Students. The universities are then ranked by institution and subject.

 

Guardian League Table methodology focuses on subject-level league tables, ranking institutions that provide each subject. The Guardian asks each institution which of their students should be counted in which subject so that they will only be compared to students taking similar subjects at other universities.

Eight statistical measures are employed to approximate a university’s performance in teaching each subject. Measures relate to both input, e.g. expenditure by the university on its students, and output, e.g. a graduate’s probability of finding a graduate-level job. The measures are knitted together to get a Guardian score, against which institutions are ranked.

For those prospective undergraduates who do not know which subject they wish to study, but who still want to know where institutions rank in relation to one another, the Guardian scores have been averaged for each institution across all subjects to generate an institution-level table.

The glaring shortfall of the Guardian is that it does not take into account university research quality or output, which is a highly relevant factor in my opinion.

 

Questions? Contact sonny.grewal [at] futureproject.ca

 

Finding the best fit: law degree options in the UK

There are a number of fantastic Law Schools in the UK that have become popular destinations for Canadian students – Sussex, Queen’s Belfast, Newcastle, and Cardiff, to name a few.

When evaluating UK Law Schools there are a number of factors that should be considered: ranking, employability, teaching quality, tuition fees, accreditation, and admission requirements, among others. With those factors in mind, there are UK law programs students may not be considering, but should.

The University of Dundee is routinely ranked among the top 30 UK Law Schools and offers a 2-year graduate entry LLB (English Law). The tuition fees and living costs are considerably lower at Dundee and with current exchange rates graduates can expect to save $20,000-$30,000 CAD over the duration of their studies, as compared to most 2-year LLB graduates in England.

Similarly, the University of Strathclyde is routinely ranked among the top 15 Law Schools in the UK and also offers a 2-year graduate entry LLB (English Law). Like Dundee, Strathclyde is located in Scotland (Glasgow), has considerably lower tuition fees and living costs, and graduates can expect to save $20,000-$30,000 CAD over the duration of their studies, as compared to most 2-year LLB graduates in England.

There are MA Law degrees offered at the University of Bristol (ranked 10th), University of Sheffield (ranked 34th), and Queen’s University Belfast (ranked 14th). All three Law Schools are members of the prestigious Russell Group, ranked among the best universities in the world, and have been producing leading domestic and international lawyers for over a century. The MA Law degree is largely the same as the graduate entry LLB in substance but is taught at graduate level, similar to Canadian JD degrees. The MA Law degree is recognized by the National Committee on Accreditation (NCA) and, all things being equal, will result in the same number of examinations being assessed as the graduate entry LLB.

The University of Edinburgh and University of Glasgow both offer 2-year graduate entry LLB degrees (Scots law). Both are among the best Law Schools in the world, ranked 7th and 8th in the UK respectively. If you choose a Scots law education you can expect to be assessed 2 additional NCA examinations to an English law education, which is a worthwhile trade-off to attend either institution.

Queen’s University Belfast offers the only JD program in the UK. The JD program admits 20 students per year, is 3-years in length, and is a taught doctorate. Anyone looking to return to Canada with a true graduate law degree and the same letters as a graduate from a Canadian Law School should consider applying to the JD program at Queen’s. The JD is recognized by the National Committee on Accreditation (NCA) and, all things being equal, will result in the same number of examinations being assessed as the 3-year LLB.

Future Project has recently launched Study Law in the UK where you can learn more about the Law Schools mentioned above as well as other great options. Take a look and get in touch if you have any questions or would like assistance.

CBC fails to fact check proposed U.K. immigration rules

In a poorly fact-checked article published this morning by the CBC, Canadians have been misinformed about proposed changes to the United Kingdom’s immigration and visa rules, said to target international students, effective November 2015.

According to a CBC London Intern, Natalie Walters, the “U.K. immigration crackdown could hit 6,000 Canadian students” when what has actually been proposed by British Home Secretary, Theresa May, are rules exclusively targeting publicly funded Further Education Colleges (FEC), rules that will not affect any of the publicly funded Higher Education Institutions (HEI).

It should be more than a little embarrassing for the CBC to be publishing the same erroneous clickbait as the month old Daily Mail report, which has since been discredited by both The PIE News and the Guardian.

The distinction between FEC and HEI, in respect of the newly proposed rules, is critical and unfortunately one that was overlooked by the CBC, despite the two terms being clearly defined and easily accessed on the British Council Canada page.

As Ms. Walters notes, “[f]or the 2013-14 academic year, there were more than 6,000 Canadian students enrolled at higher education institutions in the U.K., a three per cent increase from 2012, according to Britain’s Higher Education Statistics Agency.” Unfortunately, what she failed to recognize is that none of the more that 6,000 Canadian HEI students would be affected by the new rules, as they are not FEC students.

It is true that the elimination of the post-study work visa in 2012 has made it more difficult for non-European Union students in the U.K. who aim to secure post-graduation employment. Though it is a fallacy to suggest, as Ms. Walters has, that the newly proposed policy is to be applied to “international students studying at public (or community) colleges” as well as those at higher education institutions. Rather, the proposed changes could impact the right to work part-time and the ability to apply for a post-study work visa for FEC students, exclusively.

Ms. Walters should also have noted that the new rules have merely been proposed by the U.K. Home Office and have not yet been approved by Westminster. Additionally the CBC’s international student tuition figure of $7.8 million in 2013-14 is well short of The Higher Education Funding Council for England estimate that English universities received £3.2 billion in revenue from international student fees in 2013-14, as reported by the BBC.

Canadian students who are considering a University education in the U.K. and especially those making final preparations prior to departing for September 2015 entry, can be assured the newly proposed immigration rules are targeting exclusively those at FEC level, not HEI universities. Canadian HEI students are welcome in the U.K. and this remains so, despite poor reporting by the CBC.

 

University of Bristol – Partner Update

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Future Project is now representing 20 UK universities! We are thrilled to announce our partnership with the University of Bristol. Bristol is a top 1% University, 7th in the UK and 29th in the world (QS 2014/15) and the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 has ranked Bristol among the UK’s top research universities.

Bristol was the the first higher education institution in England to admit women on an equal basis to men, has 11 Nobel Laureates associated with the University, and is a member of the prestigious Russell Group with Oxford, Cambridge and LSE.

Notably, in 2004 Baroness Hale of Richmond, Deputy President of the Supreme Court of England, was officially installed as the University’s second female chancellor.

Find out more about Future Project and Bristol, here.

University Partner Announcement

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Future Project is now recruiting for 9 UK law schools! We are thrilled to to announce that as we continue recruitment for the 2014/15 academic year, we are now authorized representatives of Newcastle University.

Newcastle University is a Russell Group University and ranked 18th out of 121 in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2014.

The University can trace its origins to a School of Medicine and Surgery (later the College of Medicine), established in 1834, and to Armstrong College, founded in 1871 for the teaching of physical sciences.

Newcastle Law School is ranked within the UK’s Top 5 Law Schools by the Sunday Times University Guide 2013, top 10 by the Guardian University Guide 2014, and also ranks amongst the Top 5 Law Schools for student satisfaction (National Student Satisfaction Survey) for the past three consecutive years.

Newcastle has a long tradition of excellence in the teaching and research of law. As the longest established Law School in the North East of England, graduates from the University have an excellent track record of employment within the law profession and in academia.

A law qualification from Newcastle is internationally recognised as a degree of distinction, a marker of quality and a strong foundation for a future in the legal profession.

Sign up today to get our complete Application Guide and gain all Future Project’s benefits!

University Partner Announcement

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Future Project is now recruiting for 9 UK law schools! We are thrilled to to announce that as we continue recruitment for the 2014/15 academic year, we are now authorized representatives of the University of Reading.

The University was established in 1892, received its Royal Charter in 1926, and has developed into a leading force in British and international higher education.

Reading is a global university that enjoys a world-class reputation for teaching, research and enterprise as well as being ranked in the top 1% of universities in the world by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2012-13.

The School of Law is part of the world-ranked University of Reading, rated among the UK’s most research intensive institutions and one of the UK’s largest, best-known and most successful campus universities.

Rankings for the School of Law:

  • 4th in the 2013 National Student Survey for student satisfaction with the course (with 96% satisfied)
  • 7th (of 67 universities) in the UK for world-leading research and international excellence and 11th (out of 67 universities) in the UK for across all research categories: Research Assessment Exercise (RAE)
  • 11th in the Times Good University Guide 2014
  • The Times Higher Education Student Experience Survey ranked the University of Reading 12th in the country, with the campus environment in joint first place.

Sign up today to get our complete Application Guide and gain all Future Project’s benefits!

Important Changes to NCA Assessment Policy

The NCA certifies that an applicant has:

  • an understanding and knowledge of Canadian law, and
  • knowledge equivalent to that of a graduate of a Canadian common law program.

Equivalence to an approved Canadian common law, law degree serves as the benchmark when the NCA evaluates applicants with legal education or training in another country or in a Canadian civil law program. The Certificate of Qualification does not, however, duplicate a Canadian law degree, which varies between law schools. NCA applicants may be asked to challenge examinations in subjects that all law schools may not require for a law degree.

In January 2014, the NCA approved two changes to its assessment policies. The first change is detailed in policy paragraph 1.2.5, and involves deadlines for an NCA applicant to complete their assigned requirements. The new policy gives all NCA applicants five (5) years from the date of their assessment to complete their requirements. This policy change applies to all active NCA files.

If your file was assessed on or after January 2009, you have five years to complete your assigned requirements and you do not need to contact the NCA for an extension. If your qualifications were assessed prior to January 2009 and you have not completed your assigned requirements, you must contact the NCA to request an extension. Your request must state the reasons for needing an extension.

The second change involves wording in policy paragraph 3 for the assessment of applicants with non-common law training; there are no substantive changes to this part of the NCA policy.

To learn more, click here.

Law Practice Program at Ryerson University

Exciting News for UK law graduates concerned about finding Articles in Canada.

Ryerson University and Law Society of Upper Canada announce Law Practice Program to be delivered by Ryerson beginning September, 2014.

Ryerson LPP