University Tips Blog
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A headshot image of the author, Charlotte Kettlewell

by Charlotte Kettlewell

Outreach and Schools Liaison Officer at University College Birmingham

posted on 12 Jun '23

A guide to university societies

University societies are a great way for students to meet new people with a common interest, much like after-school clubs. They cover a variety of topics, including: academic, sporting and general interest. If it exists, there is probably a society for it!

I will outline some key information about societies here.

General interest societies

General interest societies or clubs cover a range of topics: from wellbeing to drama societies, students get involved in activities that they are interested in, such as creating fundraisers, going on trips and weekly games, activities and quizzes.

Academic societies

Academic societies support students studying specific subject areas, creating a community by bringing together learners who are on the same course but may not be in the same classes. These societies can help students form study groups and informal seminars, as well as providing a brilliant way to swap reading lists and books.

Sport societies

Sports societies can be for both competitive and casual players, and students can pick and choose which elements they want to be involved in. Some sports societies, like football and basketball, take part in the BUCS (British Universities and Colleges Sport) league. Different societies can also take part in varsity competitions between universities too.

Image of a student thinking about various creative interests

Things to make students aware of when considering societies:

• They are associated with a students’ union (SU), which is independent from the university. Students will automatically become a member of their SU unless they ask not to be. They are led by students for students.

• Most sports and societies will have a membership fee – these vary from society to society. To pay these, students can pay online or in person at their SU. The payment is not associated with the tuition loan and is separate from their studies, even if they are joining an academic society.

• For trips, societies may ask for additional payment, which may be discounted. Trips could include travelling abroad, going to the theatre etc.

• Societies are run by students who are likely to have been members themselves previously. They are voted in for different roles and volunteer to run the society under the supervision of the SU.

• During the first few weeks of university (commonly known as Freshers’ Week, but many universities now call it Welcome Week or Welcome Fest), students attend fairs where they can meet the students who run the clubs and societies and can even sometimes try them out!

• If students would like to join a society that does not yet exist, they can group together and create one!

I always encourage students and applicants to get involved with sports, clubs and societies as it made my student experience the full, exciting and interesting one that it was, and it helped me flourish as an individual. And with us coming out of the Covid-19 pandemic, it will really support students by feeling a sense of community in a new setting after being isolated for so long.

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