Lawyer hails 'all-encompassing' refugee programme

For South African lawyer, Ian Jaffe, the chance to turn his legal expertise towards the study of refugee protection was the challenge he needed
Immigration Law textbook
"The MA in Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies was fascinating, challenging and fun": Ian Jaffe
We were even fortunate enough to have a returned Afghan refugee as a classmate - leading to many interesting remote insights into life as a refugee

Our distance learning programmes encourage people with a range of backgrounds to explore subjects that reflect their fieldwork or professional lives.

Ian Jaffe's story is a perfect example.

A practising lawyer based in Israel, Ian registered for the MA Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies, enticed by the legal elements of the programme.

"I was particularly attracted to many of the legal-based courses which the degree offered together as opposed to others bearing a more sociological development base", he says.

"From a general understanding of the refugee past and present, refugee law and the International System, to more particular and specialised aspects such as the intricacies of the European Asylum System through questions relating to interceptions at sea - the degree was all encompassing."

"Examination and written work grades are marked strictly and critically, which is the only way I would have it."

"A solid background to refugee issues"

Ian Jaffe, MA Refugee Protection and Forced Migration StudiesAnother advantage, commonly found through our master's programmes, is how the flexibility afforded by distance learning enables established career professionals to consolidate their experience with a theoretical degree.

The process of studying often gives students and graduates renewed respect for their field or improves their working processes.

They can also often be surprised by how much they learn.

"I have certainly gained knowledge from this degree", Ian admits.

"Engaging in pro-bono legal work (linked to family reunification for African migrants as well as work with refugees of different sexual orientations and gender identities), I genuinely feel that the degree has given me a very solid and encompassing theoretical background to a vast range of refugee issues."

Refugee classmates

An eye-opener for Ian was the diversity of his student cohort, which ranged from judges to field workers and even a refugee. It all added to the experience, he says.

"Being in a remote classroom with students from a variety of professional, geographical and cultural backgrounds was particularly beneficial", he reflects.

"We were even fortunate enough to have a returned Afghan refugee as a classmate - leading to many interesting remote insights into life as a refugee.

"Other students included judges, diplomats and refugee field workers - a definite plus in extending one's horizons."

Strict and serious

So, what does a practising lawyer make of the experience? For Ian, it was the ideal combination of challenge and fun.

"Remote study is certainly challenging", he recalls, "needing self-discipline and a readiness to engage reading materials for at least 10 hours a week."

"Examination and written work grades are marked strictly and critically, which is the only way I would have it", he says. "This is a serious academic degree!"

And the highlights? There are so many, he says, before he settles on winning the poster prize at the School's first Annual Refugee Law Conference in London. He was awarded the prize by Professor Guy S. Goodwin-Gill, after whom an annual scholarship for the programme is named.

"First and foremost, the MA in Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies was fascinating, challenging and fun", he concludes.

"Reason enough, at least for myself, to highly recommend it."

Find out more about the MA Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies.