Interview with students on the Advanced Master’s (LLM) Programme – Gaetano and LucyFeb-07-2020
What is your background and what brings you to Amsterdam and to the LLM programme?
Lucy: I originally come from China and graduated last year from the Central University of Finance and Economics in China where I studied taxation. After my graduation, my university professors and senior university researchers (who have also followed the UvA/IBFD Advanced LLM) suggested that I should apply for the programme and explore more in the field of international tax law.
Gaetano: I studied law at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore (Milan) and then I pursued postgraduate studies in Italian tax law. Subsequently, I started working at a law firm in Milan and I have five years of work experience. Once dealing with international tax issues began to become part of my daily work, I decided that it was the right moment to improve my skills and deepen my knowledge of international tax law. I therefore applied to the UvA/IBFD Advanced LLM in International Tax Law via the early-bird opportunity.
What influenced your decision to attend here over other universities?
Lucy: My university professors worked together with IBFD and several Dutch universities, including the University of Amsterdam. As a result, they suggested that I should apply for the programme since they know about the high academic standards at both the UvA and IBFD. The Master’s that I am currently pursuing is one of the top five LLMs in the world and I feel that it is a great opportunity for me to learn. The classes are small so I feel more comfortable asking questions during lessons. Finally, the resources at IBFD are very important and this is a big plus of the programme.
Gaetano: The programme is an advanced LLM and, in my view, the best LLM programme in Europe. Colleagues of mine had already followed this LLM and they recommended it to me without hesitation.
How are you experiencing the programme so far?
Gaetano: I am very satisfied with the programme. Although the workload is sometimes very intense, I feel that I have learned a lot. I also have the chance to meet people from different countries and to exchange different points of view during classes. The professors are very knowledgeable, experienced and always willing to assist us. Finally, the programme provides us with not only theoretical skills but also practical skills. We have at least five lectures per week and we discuss case studies in small study groups after classes.
Lucy: The workload and reading materials can sometimes be challenging. However, the professors and teachers are very helpful. I consider EU tax law a highlight of the programme; the history of the EU and the way EU tax law has evolved over the years is really interesting.
What do you see as the major trends in your field of study?
Gaetano: International tax law is constantly changing. Digital economy and EU State aid law are two major trends in my field of study. The same goes for tax treaty interpretation.
Lucy: The Danish Beneficial Ownership cases of the European Court of Justice, the interpretation of the term “beneficial ownership” and the relationship between EU tax law and the OECD Model are very interesting topics.
How was the application procedure? Any tips for other students?
Lucy: The application procedure was not particularly complicated. The admission office helped me a lot and they were very responsive. I would advise the prospective students to manage to request assistance in finding accommodation as early as possible. The same goes for possible visa arrangements.
Gaetano: I would advise prospective students to apply for the early-bird admission. I did so last year, and I managed to arrange my accommodation in Amsterdam as well as other practical issues easily. Luckily as an EU national, I did not have to apply for a visa.
How is the contact with the teachers/professors?
Lucy: The professors and teachers are very helpful and ready to answer your questions. If we don’t have time to address a particular question during the class, I can send them an email and they usually reply quickly and very clearly. In addition, they are friendly, approachable and patient.
Gaetano: I am usually studying at both the UvA and the IBFD, so it is very easy to be able to meet the professors in the afternoon when we can discuss topics that were unclear to me during classes. In addition, the professors usually join in the social activities, so we have the chance to know them better.
Do you have any recommendations for students coming to the Netherlands to get the most out of their experience?
Gaetano: My advice for prospective students would be to attend the classes and to keep up with the daily study. The first three months can be quite demanding but, at the same time, they are very important. However, if you do your work properly and you understand the basic concepts of taxation during these months, the rest of the year becomes more manageable. In this way, you may have more time to enjoy Amsterdam and other Dutch cities.
Lucy: Studying the reading material before classes is necessary so you can follow the discussions during the classes. But by planning wisely, you will be able to cope with the heavy study-load and generally have more time to enjoy Amsterdam and the Netherlands. Amsterdam is very central, only 2 hours by train to Brussels and 2 hours by plane to Barcelona!
When the programme is finished, what do you intend to do?
Lucy: My plan is to find work in the Netherlands in the area of international tax law.
Gaetano: When I finish the programme, I hope to have the opportunity to focus on international tax law matters and to apply the knowledge that I would have gained by the end of the year in practice.