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International Students' Day 2021

To celebrate International Students' Day 2021, Northumbria BPTC graduate Aiman Rahman Khan shares his experiences of studying at our Newcastle City campus:

"The Bar Professional Training Course (now known as the Bar Course) at the Northumbria University gave me a worthwhile experience. As an alumnus, I couldn’t be prouder in knowing that Northumbria has now climbed to 27th place overall and has the best score in the UK in the value-added measure according to the Guardian University Guide 2021.Aiman Rahman Khan

While a student of Bachelor of Laws at the University of London, I got the opportunity to study at a British university while residing in my home country Bangladesh, thanks to its distance learning facility. But despite having such privilege, I always wanted to study in the United Kingdom in person. I wanted to finish the course over there but that never happened. That was when I received the Qualifying Law Degree (QLD) and was eligible to pursue the Bar Course at a UK institution. I started researching online about each institution, studying their profiles, reading in-depth reviews, and joined several student groups on social media. Reaching out to both current students and recent alumni, I came to know about Northumbria University from their perspectives. While knowing that not everyone’s experience might be the same, I decided I would look into it further and met the University's representatives directly.

Choosing a Bar provider and actually applying to one are quite different from each other. It is the process of applying that takes more effort than starting your first class at a university. The constant coordination, email and telephone correspondence with agents and the chosen university play a crucial role in securing your chance to any educational institution. Problems arise when you are from a different country with a different time zone and have to meet deadlines. I sent emails asking about the course to the friendly Northumbria University Admissions Team and received prompt responses to my questions. This went on for a month until I finally considered choosing Northumbria as a first option in the BARSAS (a website for applying to Bar providers).

In the meantime, I had the opportunity to attend a face-to-face interview with Katherine Dunn, the program leader of the BPTC at Northumbria University, following which I secured a place at Northumbria to study on the Bar Professional Training Course for the 2019-20 academic year. Since I had a little time to spare, I flew to the UK within a week of getting my T4 visa. My classes were due to start on the 13 September 2019 so I arrived at Newcastle upon Tyne a week before to know more about the place. The first thing I learned was that the Northumbria city campus was just a 3 minute walk from my accommodation. This was the second-best decision after the first, which was applying to Northumbria, I had taken in years.

I was elated.

On the day of induction, we were handed our smartcards, which were instantly made with our photographs taken on the spot. As I stepped into City Campus East, I was awestruck with the fancy-looking steel buildings on both sides. The Business & Law Building is on the left and the Department of Art & Design is on the right. There is a bridge inside the campus below which is a busy road. The bridge connects City Campus East to City Campus West. The University invested millions of pounds in these buildings and it is surely worth the investment. All the buildings have got state of the art facilities which ensure the best possible learning experience. Every department has its dedicated systems which are the best in that sector. For example, the Law School has its own ‘law practice’ library and a courtroom. The whole building is full of IT amenities for students to get a proper learning atmosphere.

The lecture classes are conducted by Barristers who give real-life insights on law practice besides teaching. Attending their classes is an experience of its own as I got to learn a lot about the UK legal world. The tutors are readily accessible and open to meet in person if any student faces any difficulty. When I first stepped into the lecture theatre, I was thrilled to see how massive it was. It can host around 400 students and has an interactive system for delivering lectures. The lectures are put up on a huge screen behind where the tutor stands. I enjoyed attending the lectures sitting at the top, as I could see the whole class feeling like a king!

One of the best features of the Law School is the courtroom. While other schools conduct their advocacy sessions in classrooms, Northumbria does it in a real-life setting. The furniture of the courtroom had been taken from a Magistrates Court in Bedlington, which makes it look just like the actual court. This is where students get to practice their advocacy sessions and submit them in front of the tutors. Civil Advocacy, Witness Handling, and Criminal Practice classes are held here. We got to wear wigs and gowns and submit our cases in front of our course tutor who acts as a judge. This allows students to get accustomed to the court atmosphere, which in turn helps them develop the necessary skills to become lawyers.

I was particularly impressed at the teachers and their teaching skills.The way they made use of technology made the entire teaching interactive. The lecturers used to make the entire class participate in every way possible, even if it is just to get a 'yes' or 'no' response to a question. The small group sessions took the interactive teaching to another level. It allowed the teachers to individually answer the students’ queries and communicate as much as possible. These sessions allowed students to really become involved in their studies in the form of assignments and homework. Advocacy and drafting sessions in small groups meant constant trial and error and learning from mistakes. The teachers who conducted the sessions would eventually assess their final result. Therefore, the students would strive to perform their best, in hopes of getting good grades in the exam.

Besides the learning, Northumbria gave me a handful of memories that I would gladly cherish for the rest of my life. Starting from the smell of freshly ground coffee from Starbucks on the ground floor of the building, to the bustling of keyboards at the hub - the campus is an experience of its own. Your morning blues would fade away at an instant and rejuvenate you instantly. This made me look forward to coming to the campus every morning just to recharge myself with the energy. I would visit the campus even when I did not have a scheduled class and spent my free time at the library. I used to arrive an hour early whenever I had a 9am class just to sit at the porch accompanied by a cup of coffee. This allowed me enough time to plan for any oncoming assignments of that day. The administrative staff of all positions are friendly and passionate - one of the reasons why the campus is always tidy and fresh.

Northumbria gave me the platform to turn my dreams into reality. I have successfully passed the BPTC and got called by the Lincoln’s Inn as a Barrister-At-Law on February this year. I am indebted to my mentors at the University without whose support and belief I wouldn’t have made this far. I recall the names of Sara Lambert, Andrew Hutchinson, Christopher Mitford, Katherine Dunn and others who would listen to me and teach me in a way that an International student such as myself would easily grasp. My stay in the UK was made worthwhile by this University and these memories will stay with me for the rest of my life!"

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