Edinburgh city student takes helm at college body

James Bamkin has been elected president of SRUCSA. Picture: Ed Robertson
James Bamkin has been elected president of SRUCSA. Picture: Ed Robertson
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AN aspiring countryside ranger from the Capital has been elected president of Scotland’s rural college students’ association (SRUCSA).

James Bamkin, 31, who has just completed an HND in countryside management at the SRUC Oatridge campus, will hold the salaried post for a year.

He has already served as his class representative for the past two years and says his main aim is to raise the profile of the representative body among SRUC students.

“I first got involved in the SRUCSA because I wanted to see students represented and staff held to account in a relatively new organisation,” he said.

“The SRUCSA tends to work very hard but is effectively hidden away. As President, my aim is to make it more high profile and active. There are lots of students who know we exist somewhere in the background – but don’t know what we can do to help them. I want to encourage much more student involvement in their own education and student life.”

James will represent the 2500 full-time and 5000 part-time students based in the six SRUC campuses across the country.

He will also serve on the Scottish Executive of the National Union of Students (NUS) and will join the board of SRUC.

In April, SRUCSA won the best small and specialised students’ association award from the NUS in recognition of the progress made since it was formed in 2012.

James added: “I am very enthusiastic about the challenges ahead as President. I will be engaging with students on a personal level and not be aloof. I will be out there pressing the flesh. I also want to live up to the legacy established with the NUS award, and continue the rapid level of growth.”

Also joining as vice-president for 2016-17 is Gemma Jones, 22, who comes from near Inverurie in Aberdeenshire, and has gained a BA (Hons) in outdoor pursuits management at the SRUC Ayr campus.

Like James, Gemma will hold the salaried post for a year before seeking a job as an outdoors educator or instructor.

Janet Swadling, SRUC’s acting chief executive, congratulated the new student leaders and said their work would be crucial to the development of life at the college.

“The SRUC Students’ Association is playing an increasingly significant role and is recognised for its very positive input to College affairs,” she said.

“We are very proud of the constructive working relationship we enjoy with SRUCSA and I look forward to working with the new executive team and, in particular, the new President and Vice President.

“James, as a mature student, will bring a different perspective to the role as President, while Gemma, as the new Vice President, has sound experience on which to build having already been active as the Ayr Campus Officer.”