Going online in Global Competition and Consumer Law makes all the difference
Louise Bell is a senior associate at Herbert Smith Freehills in Brisbane, Australia and her classmate Boniface Kamiti lives in Nairobi, where he is the Manager of Consumer Protection at the Competition Authority of Kenya.
Despite being more than 10,000 kilometres apart, these two students have the opportunity to learn together – thanks to Melbourne Law School’s new Global Competition and Consumer Law Online Program (GCCL).
GCCL is Melbourne Law School’s first wholly online graduate program and one of only a handful of comprehensive graduate offerings in competition and consumer law available in the world.
The online nature of the program means students can collaborate with peers located across the globe. Other students come from a diverse range of countries, from Romania to Vietnam. For Boniface, this diversity enriches the learning process and exposes him to different experiences and ideas.
Boniface Kamiti, a student in the MLS Global Competition and Consumer Law Online Program.
“I am able to interact with my fellow students through the discussion forums that we have weekly as well as the scheduled webinars,” Boniface says.
“Interacting with my fellow students has enabled me to learn about competition law and practice in other countries, and has given me the opportunity to articulate Kenya’s competition law. The discussion forum is an amazing learning tool.”
Online learning also gives students flexibility, allowing them to tailor their university commitments around their busy schedules.
Louise had always dreamed of studying at Melbourne Law School, but professional and personal commitments in Brisbane meant she had to put that dream on hold. When the GCCL online program launched last year, she saw it as an opportunity to undertake study without compromising other important aspects of her life.
“The online nature of the course is absolutely critical to my ability to juggle family, work, personal and study commitments. It means I can study when it best suits me throughout each term rather than in accordance with a predetermined schedule,” she says.
“If my commitments at work or at home change at short notice, I do not need to worry that I will miss a lecture or a tutorial and start to fall behind. The online nature of the course allows me to select the days and times that I can give my full attention to my study.”
Louise Bell, a student in the MLS Global Competition and Consumer Law Online Program.
Like Boniface, Louise values the “sense of community” she feels with her fellow online students, explaining how she interacts with them on the discussion board “daily in some weeks”. She also appreciates “the level and quality of access to academics and their bespoke feedback” which “creates a very rich learning experience”.
Boniface also finds that online learning makes it easier to balance his studies with his personal and working life.
“The online course has enabled me to achieve my career objectives from the comfort of my computer, without compromising the time I have to spend either at work or with my family,” he says.
“I must say that juggling between work, other commitments and doing my studies is not easy. My work involves leading investigations into consumer issues. To be able to juggle, I realised that I needed to plan and execute effectively, avoid procrastination and utilise every little time at my disposal.
“But we also receive valuable guidance from our subject coordinators ... as well as timely back end support relating to administrative matters.”
According to the Program Director, Professor Caron Beaton-Wells, the benefits of “going online” are obvious, even if many other leading institutions seem slow to catch on.
“Online we can offer our students access to a much wider range of experts as well as a truly international network of like-minded peers – in a way simply not replicable in a brick and mortar classroom,” she says.
Experts contributing to the content and delivery of the program include competition law luminaries such as Professor Bill Kovacic (former Chairman of the US Federal Trade Commission), Professor Frederic Jenny (Chairman of the OECD Competition Commission), Professor Damien Geradin (EUCLID Law), and Professor Allan Fels (former Chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission), amongst many others.
But she is also quick to emphasise that it will take time before prospective students and their sponsoring employers fully understand and appreciate the nature of online learning and, in particular, its differences from the long-standing and in some quarters, discredited, model of distance learning.
“The learning design for this program couldn’t be further apart from distance learning. Our students have a deeply engaged experience with numerous opportunities to share with and learn from each other, as well as us, and all made possible by the miraculous technology we have at our fingertips,” she says.
Hear more about what students say about the highlights of the online program for them in this short video featuring three students from ASEAN competition authorities.
Asked if she would recommend the program to others, Louise says “definitely – for its flexibility, impeccable and fascinating content, access to world leading academics and relevance to the real world.”
But a final word from Boniface – to anyone thinking about enrolling in the GCCL:
“Just do it!”
By Patrick Sexton