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Interview with students on the Advanced Master’s (LLM) Programme - Rose and PatriciaFeb-07-2020

What is your background and what brings you to Amsterdam and to the LLM programme?
Rose: I studied for my Bachelor of Law and accountancy qualification in Kenya. Prior to starting the UvA/IBFD Advanced LLM, I practised tax law at one of the top-tier firms in Kenya. I have also worked as a revenue officer at the Kenya Revenue Authority. I came to Amsterdam to study the UvA/IBFD Advanced LLM because I was impressed by the structure of the programme and the courses offered, as well as the resources that are available at IBFD.  
Patricia: My background is a bit different. I have worked in consultancy firms in Brazil primarily focusing on domestic tax law and as an in-house consultant for private companies. In 2015, I followed an IBFD training in Brazil and met several teachers and researchers associated with IBFD who suggested the programme to me. The partnership between UvA and IBFD was a very important factor for applying for the programme. 
  1. What influenced your decision to attend here over other universities?
Rose:To be honest, I did my research on international tax LLMs globally and applied to different universities. A good friend of mine followed the UvA/IBFD Advanced LLM course and gave me feedback on the programme. I also noted that there were various opportunities for a scholarship to study the programme. Ultimately, the reputation of both the UvA and IBFD was an important factor that influenced my decision to apply for the programme.  
Patricia: I wanted to pursue a Master’s in international taxation and a programme with a clear focus on international tax law was a top priority for me. The partnership with IBFD brings a lot of value to the programme. 
How are you experiencing the programme so far? 
Patricia: My overall experience is very positive. It is certainly a demanding programme but the interactive classes and the discussion in small study groups can help you to understand the concepts. Furthermore, the programme focuses not only on theoretical issues but also on their practical application. The highlight of the programme so far is the opportunity that you have to be in contact with renowned professors whose articles I had read when I was in Brazil. 
Rose: The programme is better than I expected. It is an advanced Master’s: the daily classes, the discussion of case studies in small groups and the approachable teachers and professors make a big difference. The tax treaty negotiation course is one of the highlights of the programme! By participating in this course, I have had the chance to understand what a country needs to consider when negotiating a treaty with another country.  
What do you see as the major trends in your field of study?
Patricia: Anything regarding the taxation of the digital economy and EU law. The ad hoc Technical Meetings that are scheduled through the year to keep us updated on the major trends in international tax law really add value to the programme. 
Rose: Another important trend in international tax law is the Multilateral Instrument, the so-called MLI, in relation to the implementation of the BEPS initiatives. Kenya signed the MLI quite recently and the knowledge that I now have on the MLI will allow me to understand its impact on the treaties that my country has concluded. 
How was the application procedure? Any tips for other students?
Rose: The application process was not difficult. The university was very helpful and very responsive to any questions that I had. Furthermore, there was enough information regarding the programme on the UvA and IBFD website. I would definitely advise prospective students to check the applicable deadlines and collect the necessary documentation in good time. 
Patricia: I would advise prospective students not to apply at the very last moment as they may miss the chance to apply for a scholarship. In addition, the earlier they apply, the more time they have to prepare for their studies, e.g. by arranging their accommodation and dealing with the visa documentation. In any case, the university is here to help the students with any question they have. 
How is the contact with the teachers/professors?
Rose: The professors are very approachable – there is no question that is too silly for them! Moreover, they have a lot of industry experience and they explain the tax concepts in a very detailed and practical manner. They also ensure they share their emails with us if we have questions after the class, including their response to whatever questions were raised.
Patricia: I share the same experience. All teachers and professors have an open-door policy so they are very approachable. I like that our lecturers are from all over the world and they can therefore share their experience with the jurisdictions they are working with. Finally, our teachers and professors join in the social activities and they are all very friendly!
Do you have any recommendations for students coming to the Netherlands to get the most out of their experience?
Patricia: Bearing in mind that this is a full-time and demanding programme, trying to combine work with studies is not such a good idea. Furthermore, I would advise prospective students to keep a balanced life as much as possible, to socialize with their classmates and to travel as much as they can!
Rose: The LLM should be your priority and you must work hard to complete it. But it is important to enjoy being in the Netherlands and Europe as well. I have already visited several museums in the Netherlands and I plan to travel to nearby countries since many of them are beautiful and close. I still have trouble with the cold and rainy weather though, but there is nothing you can do about this!
When the programme is finished, what do you intend to do?
Patricia: At the moment, I am enjoying studying and living abroad. I would like to stay in the Netherlands and apply for a job here. 
Rose: To be honest, I have not decided yet. It might be nice to find a job in the Netherlands for a while. Subsequently, I would like to return to Kenya and apply the knowledge that I would have gained in practice.