The coronavirus pandemic has changed how law schools and universities operate and it is impacting on how potential students plan to study in the upcoming academic year.
The changes to the way universities and LLM students wish to work in combination with the more general trends of an increasing interest in studying the law will doubtlessly increase demand for all LLM programs especially those with online provision.
Possible pressure on the international jobs market
With the possibility of global economic depression, many people in the legal world and beyond will be considering improving their employability. Many careers can benefit from an LLM, not just practising lawyers, and this will increase demand for LLM programs. Those students who are just graduating or who have already become unemployed may choose full-time learning which is often on-campus, but those who are still working will often choose part-time learning delivered by distance learning online.
LLM students want certainty
Many law schools are delaying the start dates for postgraduate courses from September to October or even January or February. Other law schools, such as the London School of Economics, are offering online options for on-campus LLM courses for the first term for students who are impacted by travel restrictions or delays. This gives the option of starting a course online and then completing it on-campus allowing students to complete their LLM year as soon as possible. However, some students will want certainty next year, and a law school that already specialises in online LLM programs will offer the best chance of this certainty.
Students are used to online learning
With the entire graduating class of 2020 having used online learning for the end of their undergraduate degrees there is now an entire generation of lawyers who are comfortable with online learning. For many students being forced into online learning is their first taste of learning in this method. There are significant advantages to online learning compared to on-campus learning and many students may find that this way suits them better.
International students have limited options
Many international LLM students face travel restrictions and the potential of difficulties of travelling home at the end of their LLM year. In addition to this, there are possible delays in processing student visas and English tests with local or international restrictions and the fear that students and families of future outbreaks of coronavirus. Online LLM programs may be the solution that many students need to improve their careers and future options.
Law schools are encouraging PG applications
Many universities and law schools are seeking to grow their numbers of postgraduate students in all subject areas, including law because of the impact of the coronavirus crisis. In the UK there has also been a gradual increase in students undertaking taught postgraduate courses in law – such as LLM programs – with law courses around the world have seen a similar increase. This will mean that prospective LLM students should expect there to be an increase in demand for online LLM courses. The number of taught LLM students in the UK has gradually increased over the last few years as this table depicts.
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