Laura loved her Lancaster learning experience – in Luxembourg

13 December 2018 11:00
Lancaster University graduate Laura Smith

When Laura Smith collected her Masters degree in Diplomacy and International Relations, it was the first time she had visited Lancaster University – though her Dad Duncan knows all about the Bailrigg campus.

The 24-year-old completed her studies at home in Luxembourg as a distance learner. It was an entirely different experience of Lancaster from that of her father, who graduated as a Lonsdale College student with a Law degree in 1987, having lived and studied on campus.

But Laura, born in London and brought up in both Washington DC and Luxembourg, speaks just as highly of her time studying at Lancaster as her dad. She praised the course and her tutors, and found learning at home was no problem, as the university ensured everything ran smoothly.

“It was entirely done from Luxembourg – my dad still thinks it was a little strange that I hadn’t been to Lancaster! It’s interesting for me to see the campus,” said Laura, who was among more than 1,000 graduates to receive their post-graduate qualifications on the day.

“All the communication was fantastic, some of the lectures we did were live, so people could call in from around the world – it was all really impressive.

“I had to have a lot of self-discipline and self-motivation to get up, do my lectures and my reading, rather than going to a lecture with class-mates. There was definitely that self-motivation aspect to the course. I really enjoyed the freedom of it – I could do my weekly reading and my weekly tasks at my pace, and at times that suited me best.

“I had a lot of flexibility with the course. I have friends around the world – because Dad’s job has meant we have moved around a little bit. For a week in February, I was in Washington DC, visiting my best friend, but I was still able to continue my studies when she went to work.”

Duncan Smith and his daughter Laura Smith

Duncan also speaks highly of the flexibility of Lancaster University, as he initially went to study Economics, with a module in Law, but was able to switch to the Law course full-time after the first year.

Asked why she had chosen to take part in the distance-learning course with Lancaster, Laura added: “My dad having been at Lancaster was definitely one of the things that flagged it up on my radar. But also, it has a very strong reputation for the course I was on – especially the quality of teaching – and it is very highly-ranked.”

Duncan, who now works for the European Investment Bank in Luxembourg, is delighted Laura has followed in his footsteps as a Lancaster graduate, though he recognises they have had entirely different experiences.

“We went to lectures, we did exams, and we were on campus most of the time – it was a completely different experience to the one Laura has had,” he said.

“I’m happy that my suggestion to look at Lancaster was one of the things that originally had her looking at the International Relations course.”

Since graduating from Lancaster, Duncan passed the bar exams in 1989, and has subsequently worked as a prosecutor for the Department of Trade and Industry, the UK’s Serious Fraud Office and the World Bank’s Fraud and Corruption Investigations department in Washington DC – where Laura spent much of her childhood – before landing in his current role as Deputy Head of the Fraud Investigations Division at the European Investment Bank in Luxembourg.

Laura, who is working as an intern at the US Embassy in Luxembourg, hopes she can have just as successful a career on the back of her Lancaster experience.

“I’m hoping to get into international human rights, and the course at Lancaster will be a big help for that,” she said. “My dissertation, specifically, I wrote about the Rohingya crisis, and that is still relevant.”

Duncan added: “I couldn’t have done what I have done or been where I have been without a Law degree. It is a fundamental platform of where I started and what I did. I’m hoping Laura will be very successful.

“She has had a great result (a distinction) from a great course. The dissertation has been a definite challenge and there has been a heavy workload, but she’s done a diligent job and a lot of research, and those are skills that will apply when she gets a job.”

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