Although only half-way through his combined Bachelor of Laws/Bachelor of Commerce degree, Michael Biggs is already notching up an impressive list of international study experiences.
Most recently, Michael took part in Deakin's Chinese Commercial Law study program touring both Shanghai and Beijing. Michael alongside a group of 30 Deakin law students had the opportunity to compete in an international law negotiation competition, attend university lectures in Shanghai, visit legal firms, courts, commissions and explore iconic landmarks across China.
Earlier this year, Michael returned from Buenos Aries studying international human rights law – with a particular focus on Argentina’s past military dictatorships and its “disappeared people” – as part of his degree.
‘It’s been an amazing experience and I’ve been able to meet some inspirational people such as one of the heads of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo and the senior prosecutor of the ESMA trials. I’ve also been able to travel to see the stunning Iguazu Falls,’ he says.
The first in his family to attend university, Michael opted to combine law and commerce because he was interested in the legal system and also thought the two disciplines would provide for a solid career foundation.
‘I was interested in business and had originally planned to become an accountant but I felt there would be a large amount of crossover and that having an understanding of law would set me up well for a career in business. I’m very glad I chose law as I can definitely see myself working as a lawyer once I finish my studies,’ he says.
Michael has already completed one legal internship unit at the AED Legal in Melbourne, and describes as a ‘great experience’ that taught him a raft of practical legal skills.
Last year, he also undertook his first global study sojourn where he spent two weeks In Tokyo with Mitsui & Co., one of the world's most diversified trading, investment and services enterprises.
‘This was an amazing experience and one of the best things that I have ever done. I’m extremely grateful for the support of Deakin, Mitsui and DFAT as this was funded through the New Colombo Plan and Mitsui Educational Foundation,’ he says.
Over his two weeks in Japan, Michael was able to gain insight into Japanese business culture and learn more about international business processes and protocols.
‘I also had the opportunity to meet some really interesting business people including members of Mitsui’s board of directors and Japan’s Department of Foreign Affairs and I visited the Australian Embassy and met its members and staff. The trip really broadened my career prospects in a variety of ways and in areas that I’d never previously considered. It was also the first that time I had ever been overseas so it was incredibly exciting,’ he says.
By making the most of Deakin’s flexible study delivery, Michael has been able to take his studies wherever he needs – whether it’s on-campus, overseas or online – and says the university’s Cloud Campus is a unique and well-supported learning environment.
‘I’ve studied a number of units online over the course of my degree and the support is exactly the same as you get on campus with the same access to resources and lecturers. It also offers much greater flexibility and recognises that in 2018, students come from a diverse range of backgrounds with a range of other responsibilities. Studying online allows me to be able to work and also keep up with my other commitments outside of uni whilst keeping up with my degree.’
As a high-achieving student, Michael has a growing list of accolades that demonstrate his study commitment. These include a Deakin First in the Family Scholarship, Best First Year Law Student, membership to the Golden Key Honours Society and the Beta Alpha Psi, and recognition by the Institute of Public Accounts Scholarship as one of Australia’s top accounting students.
‘These awards mean a lot to me as they recognise my academic achievements and the scholarships and grants have allowed me to travel overseas and experience university life to the full,’ he says.
Next year, Michael will again head to another international study destination where he’ll study International Financial Law at the London School of Economics during June and July.
He says that so far, one of the major highlights of his study journey has been the inspiring people he’s met along the way.
‘I’ve been lucky to make some great friends through my course and within the internships and overseas study tours. I think that it’s the people who really make the experience enjoyable and help provide the positive memories.’
While keeping an open mind about his future career, Michael says he’s leaning towards corporate law and politics.
‘These are the two areas that really interest me but I will wait and see where life takes me. After balancing study and part-time work for so long, it will be good to finally get into full time work. I’m looking forward to trying a few areas of law so I can find what interests me the most.