Student experience: Double Degree Programme

Geraldo Milton, tax auditor, Aruba tax authorities

  1. When did you study at the UA?

I attended the University of Aruba for the first time in 1997-1998.  I completed my first year successfully and then decided that I wanted to study something else. I returned 10 years later and studied at the University of Aruba from 2007-2011.

  1. What did you study at the UA?

I obtained my Bachelor’s degree at the Faculty for Finance, Accounting and Marketing (FEF).

  1. What is your current position / role personally/professionally?

I am currently working at the Aruba Tax Authorities where I work in a team that audits corporations and my duty is to prepare tax assessments for corporate tax, property tax and Sales tax (BBO).

  1. What would your message be to students contemplating to study at the UA or whom are current students at the UA? 

The message I have for students contemplating to study at the UA is to interact with current students currently attending the UA, attend the events like the so-called “Open Dagen” and also get in contact with UA alumni who are now working in Aruba or abroad. Current students should be very aware of changes on the job market: they should also get in contact with UA alumni. I think most important for current students is to treat the theoretical part of studying at UA just as important as the practical part.

  1. How would you describe your experience studying at the UA?

I must say that I have absolutely no regrets in returning to obtain my degree in 2007. The change I saw at the University was astonishing – from the decor of the grounds, the staff of the faculty,  the amount of students attending, it was to summarize everything, an awesome experience.

I decided to return to obtain my bachelor’s degree, because I had been following the latest developments of the university in the media closely whenever it would promote its future plans and slowly I noticed it was becoming a very prominent institution of higher learning on the island of Aruba. Also, the curriculum was so broad that upon completion any graduate could pursue any area in finances whether it be working in a bank or an accounting office.

  1. You recently were part of the so-called Spring courses, organized in light of the new Double Degree Master’s Programme in European and International Tax Law. How would you describe your experience?

I received an e-mail in September 2015 informing me that there was a possibility of a partnership between the University of Aruba and the University of Maastricht. This partnership would produce a Double Degree Program in the area of International Taxation specifically in a LLM in International and European Tax Law-American specialization from Maastricht University and a LL.M in Aruban Law- International Comparative Tax Law specialization of the University of Aruba, I was immediately interested.

The partnership became a reality sooner than I had imagined, because a couple of months later I was invited via e-mail to attend a presentation giving by Ms. S. van Thol and other staff of the University of Aruba, who all played a crucial role in the setup of the Double Degree Program.

The first presentation was very informative and although the most important part, which was the costs of tuition, was not available at the moment you sensed that the program was something you wanted to be part of. I liked the problem based learning methodology approach that would be used during the lectures.

Finally after attending other presentations and receiving various well informative e-mails of the Double Degree Program, I decided to make a serious attempt to be part of it.

I did not meet the admissions requirement to enter the program directly. I was required to follow the so-called Spring Courses I and II, plus successfully pass examinations to complete both courses.

Spring Course I: Foundation of Taxation course dealt with the basic principles of taxation, I could relate a little to this course because it dealt with certain aspects of my daily work. Spring Course also give me a basic insight on how the procedure to introduce a new legislation in a country is handled by the tax legislators. The different concepts that play an important role on how the actual taxation will take place.

Springs Course II: Fundamentals of European and International Tax Law dealt with giving me an overview of the most important topics related to the taxation of cross border transactions at an introductory level.

The classes were given by a very good and knowledgeable lecturer of the Maastricht University, Dr. Marcel Schaper, who did a great job introducing the students to the program. The spring courses also served as a taste of what lectures would be like in September 2016. I was successful in passing both spring courses and I intend to enroll in September 2016 to be part of the Double Degree Program of the University of Aruba and University of Maastricht.

  1. What is your opinion / are your expectations about the introduction of the Double Degree Master’s Programme in European and International Tax Law?

I encourage every current student or graduate who has serious intentions of becoming a tax advisor to enquire about this program. It is an advantage to be able to study how tax legislation works in different countries and how many commonalities there are between many countries that implement very similar tax legislation.  My expectations are very high especially after attending the spring courses and interacting with the lecturer. I am looking forward to meeting other faculty members in September 2016.