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#GoodbyeTNS - This is where it all began

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As The National Student closes its doors at the end of the week, contributor Robert Liow tells us what the platform means to him.

Like my fellow contributors, I'm very sad that The National Student is closing. It has been a wonderful year and a half since I first joined. Losing it feels like breaking up after a long relationship - you've been together so long; you've forgotten what it's like to be single.

Oddly enough, I never intended to be a journalist; I just needed a platform for a call to action around the 2018 university strikes, and a contact I knew pointed me in the direction of The National Student.

When I published an opinion piece calling for students to get a tuition refund, I expected it to cause a little debate in the student activist circles, and maybe shape the demands of some student activists.

Instead, it went viral, and sparked a nation-wide call for a fee refund. I was both surprised and inspired. I had a platform and a network of contacts in the student movement; why not use that to cover the movement first-hand, in a way nobody else was?

Over the following weeks, I would attend protests and follow tip-offs, resulting in original articles on students standing up to authorities at GoldsmithsUniversity of the Arts LondonKing's College London and elsewhere.

Meanwhile, by the time the first wave of strikes had finished, over 20,000 people had read my opinion piece; over 126,000 students had signed petitions calling for universities to refund students for lost time; and I had been contacted by the BBC and the Guardian to talk about the refund.

I pretty much stayed on the student movement beat after that, and it did not disappoint. Whether it was King's College London hitting student climate protesters with criminal damage charges, students protesting for Bangladeshi road safety, the National Union of Students nearly going bust, or reporting first-hand from the Goldsmiths anti-racist occupation; it was a busy time.

As a law graduate with no intention of going into law or finance, I was unsure what the future held. Meanwhile, writing for The National Student was exhilarating: chasing leads, working with sources, going on the front lines of protests and pushing towards a deadline was almost like a sport. Seeing the final product go up and get views set off a thrill in my heart. Winning a Student Publication Association Regional Award for Best Journalist in London was just the cherry on top.

Thanks to my time at The National Student, I've gone from just another confused and worried graduate to know what I want to do. Armed with a year and a half of experience, I've finally taken the plunge - I'm going for a Masters in digital journalism, and set my sights on a career in the media.

The National Student is where it all began for me, but it isn't where it ends. To my colleagues and editors - thank you for sending me on this incredible journey!




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