- Course: International Human Rights Law LLM
- Nationality: Georgian
Please tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m a disability rights advocate from Georgia. I completed my Bachelor’s degree in Law at Tbilisi State University (Georgia). Later I received a Master’s degree in International Law and Human Rights at the University of Tartu (Estonia) with the financial support of the University of Tartu itself and the Georgian International Education Centre. With the Disability Rights Scholarship of the Open Society Foundation, I was given the opportunity to study International Human Rights Law at Leeds.
What made you want to apply to your course and to Leeds?
University of Leeds serves as one of the most distinguished Disability Studies hub not only across the UK, but its reputation is well known worldwide. While working in Georgia as a disability rights advocate, I followed the news, developments and research articles published by University of Leeds’s professors in Disability Studies and law. I can hardly imagine a better place for studying Disability Law, human rights, or inequality and justice related subjects than University of Leeds.
What is it that makes you passionate about your area of study?
Democracy, human rights, justice, equality – are the values I believe in. Defending the rights of most vulnerable groups of people and contributing to changing someone’s life in a positive way is the most priceless achievement and the greatest feeling I derived from my work as a disability rights advocate.
What do you think of your course so far – what aspects of the course have you enjoyed the most or are looking forward to the most?
The International Human Rights course has met all my expectations. Besides the high-quality academic teaching, the most important thing I found very useful is the opportunities offered by the University to get involved in practical fieldwork and thus, to prepare for the future. During my studies, I participated in the research project in disability law, which was a great learning experience for me, as it offered the opportunity to be part of and to contribute to the research team in the UK led by the distinguished professor Luke Clements.
What would you say about the learning facilities at the University of Leeds?
The University campus is truly fascinating. I like the modern and well-equipped new building of the School of Law. Libraries are a perfect place for studying and a lot of books are available on site. There is a wide choice of articles and books provided electronically. University also runs a career centre and the language zone, where you can find different learning materials for many languages or find other students for language exchange. I also used the LinkedIn Learning platform offered by the University.
How do you find the student support from the School?
The School of Law provides great student support schemes. The attention, openness and readiness of staff to help and support students anytime is really amazing. I never felt lost, as I knew I could always easily approach anyone from the staff and ask for help. It’s really important when you are new to the foreign environment and know little about the country, the city, or the local culture.
What other activities are available for students to take part in outside of their studies and which ones have you tried out yourself?
In addition to studies, the University and the School of Law offers opportunities to be involved in different interesting activities. I applied to serve as the course representative in a Student-Staff Forum. This role required proactive communication with other students and critical thinking to find new ideas, which could improve the study process in the future. The University also gave me an amazing opportunity to be one of the ambassadors of the University which allowed me to communicate with prospective students from all around the world, to share with them my experience in Leeds, answer their inquiries, offer tours around the campus and manage the social media of the Ambassadors webpage.
The Leeds University Union also runs numerous clubs and societies where one can meet other students with same interests. I tried the Sign Language Society to learn the British Sign Language in a fun and friendly atmosphere. It was a nice experience to learn the sign language with so many people interested in disability related issues.
What do you think about Leeds as a city?
Leeds is a very vibrant city and a comfortable place for everyone regardless of their differences or backgrounds. There are a lot of galleries and museums, lots of options for shopping, cafes, clubs and of course the amazing pub culture. I have visited several cities across the UK and in comparison, with others, Leeds has a very good combination of urban areas for active leisure and an amazing park for enjoying the nature and silence. The location of the city allows for easy travel from the west coast to the east, and from the north part of the country to its south.
What would you say to anyone thinking of applying to your course?
I highly recommend the International Human Rights Law course in Leeds to anyone who is eager to acquire academic knowledge in human rights. The University has outstanding, world class professors specialized in specific fields of law which I found as a huge advantage of the University. Beside formal lectures, various academic trainings and workshops are offered which help to develop critical thinking and efficient tools for academic writing, including improving the level of English. The University also organizes workshops on how to prepare a strong CV and resume, conduct an effective job interview, or effectively use social media. The diverse job, internship and volunteer opportunities offered by the School of Law are indeed priceless additional support and learning experiences for the students who can choose to engage in exactly what they need.
What do you plan to do once you’ve finished your course? What are you career aspirations?
My short-term goal is to continue working in disability rights and the litigation of disability-based discrimination cases in Georgia with local non-governmental organizations. My long-term goal is to acquire PhD qualification and pursue a career in academia. I hope I will have the opportunity to share best of my knowledge and experiences in disability law with law students in Georgia.