A FORMER Angus College student campaigner is moving on to pastures new this term, but is urging his fellow students to continue the fight.
Gary Paterson, the outgoing campaigns and social media officer for Angus College Students’ Association, was a driving force in the campaign to secure student facilities and rights not just at Angus College but nationally too.
He is now moving to the University of Strathclyde to study History and Politics and to continue his role with the National Union of Students as their Think Positive campaign ambassador.
According to Gary his time at Angus College has been invaluable. He said: “The last two years of my study in further education have been marvellous on every level and completely life changing.
“College provided me with the opportunity to evaluate my priorities and direction in life, whilst also developing my understanding of academia and the world inside and out of our political and educational institutions, encouraged and facilitated by truly amazing staff working under tough conditions. For this I am eternally grateful.
“I became heavily involved in campaigning for the safety of our college for others in our community to enjoy and experience.
“This past year has been a whirlwind of progress, activism and successes for students locally and nationally.
“Spurred on by the threat of shattering college cuts hundreds of students took to the campus to show their appreciation for their college and their willingness to defend it against unfair and unjust targeting.
“Our successes, winning money back for colleges and protection of student places, was down to the endless hard work of all our students and the fantastic support of everyone in the community, all of which I am absolutely and eternally grateful for.”
The work of the college activists resonated with Angus people, has hundreds of full time places and a thousand part-time places were threatened. He said: “The community response to our campaign appeals was absolutely overwhelming.
“I have no doubt in my mind that the student presence in the community would not have been to the very strong level that is was without that community anger and confusion, and the solid community support for our campaign to save our local opportunities.”
However, Gary would urge his colleagues at Angus College not to be complacent. He said: “Moving forward, the fight for a secure and ultimately better education is far from over and there is still much work to be done to ensure we get the best deal for our colleges and communities, whilst facilitating an overall positive student experience and connection with, and within, educational structures, institutions and wider society.
“However, while there are challenges from certain areas, Angus College still benefits from being one of the best colleges in Scotland and is lucky to have enthusiastic, committed and passionate students, staff and alumni who are equally excited about, and are committed to, this wonderful institution.
“I wish the best of luck to students all students new, returning and moving on. The opportunity of college cannot be overstated.
“College allows people to realise their dreams and potential, that is why I fought to protect it, and will continue to campaign to create a socially just, open and fair education system for all in which we can unlock Scotland’s potential.”