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Australian studies law completely online. Her first in-person class was at Masaryk

For more than forty years, students at Deakin University in Melbourne have been able to study their entire degree programme off-campus. Australian Emma Bolton is also completing her Bachelor's degree in this way. In her four years of study, she has never had a full-time class - until now at Masaryk University.

Australian student Emma Bolton spent three weeks at Masaryk University.

She came to Brno for the three-week Winter School on International Relations and Threats to Global Security, which she applied for to gain international experience in the field and to have a chance to study abroad just before graduation. And although she only spent less than a month at Masaryk University, she is delighted she could come as she has three young children at home. Her youngest son is only a year and a half.

Online but non-stop

“My kids are the main reason I'm studying a full 4-year bachelor's degree online. And it's great that we have such opportunities here in Australia - working people and women on parental leave welcome the chance to expand their education. Because without a degree, you don't have much chance to start a career in Australia,” explains Emma.

Even though online study gives her a lot of freedom and allows her to tailor lectures and seminars to her own timetable, she admits that studying and taking care of small children and the whole household simultaneously is very time-consuming. So, she is on the go non-stop from early morning to late evening every day. However, she will soon be taking her final exams, so now she has her goal within reach, and she says everything is more manageable.

“I'm looking forward to becoming a lawyer, even though I never really planned to pursue this profession. I originally wanted to study history and I've always been interested in that field. Unfortunately, the course was full, so I ended up in a law course by mistake. And surprisingly, I liked that field. I enjoy helping people; it's very meaningful work for me. In the future, I want to focus on international law, and the idea of working for the International Criminal Court one day appeals to me the most. I wouldn't mind moving to Europe for such a job,” the student explains.

Saving the best for last

She has also stated that she likes Europe very much, thanks to her placement at Masaryk University. Due to the winter school, she visited Europe for the first time and liked it very much. Every city visited during the three-week winter school excursion with foreign students exceeded her expectations, whether it was Vienna, Prague or Budapest. And she is looking forward to returning to Europe - there are many places and countries she plans to visit.

“I have dreamed of Europe since I was a child. I love history and I never get tired of beautiful European cities with amazing architecture. I'm so glad that I got to see Europe at least briefly, and I hope to return soon. Preferably on a summer road trip to see and experience as much as possible,” laughs the student, who saw snow for the first time in her life during her placement in the Czech Republic and even experienced temperatures of -10 degrees, which was a big shock for her, as in Melbourne temperatures do not drop below 10 degrees in winter.

It was also very unusual for her to return to classical teaching for the first time after four years of online study. Despite the fact that online degree programmes are quite common in Australian universities and that they have decades of experience and are ahead of the curve in this form of education, she appreciates that she was able to return to a regular classroom at the end of her studies, at least for a while. In her opinion, in-person teaching makes it much easier to maintain attention, not to mention motivation, self-discipline and the problem of social isolation.

“I'm glad that my studies were not all online and that I could attend regular classes and spend time with my classmates, at least for a while, thanks to Masaryk. I also met a lot of international students thanks to the composition of the class, which made our joint seminars more interesting because we could compare different legal systems. It was also very beneficial how much we learned about the European Union, humanitarian law, and cybersecurity, which we don't focus on at our university. It was great to broaden my horizons thanks to the winter school and to see what teaching in my field looks like in a different part of the world. If I could, I would come for a whole semester; I really enjoyed it,” laughs the student.

But her time in Europe also made her realise that not everything is a given - for example, the opportunity to study a degree programme completely online. If it weren't for this unique opportunity that Australian universities offer, she would never have been able to get a university degree herself.

“And I am very grateful for that, especially since I found out, thanks to my placement in Brno and international students from different parts of the world, that it is not so common to study a whole Bachelor's degree online at a prestigious university. I now appreciate this opportunity more. But I'm glad that we won't be graduating online. In fact, it will be the first time I will meet my classmates other than through a computer screen after four years of study.“