University Tips Blog
Group of students attending an entrepreneurship society meeting
A headshot image of the author, Charlotte Kettlewell

by Charlotte Kettlewell

Outreach and Schools Liaison Officer at University College Birmingham

posted on 8 Jan '24

Preparing for university - what are student societies?

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

General interest societies

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

Academic societies

Academic societies support you in specific subject areas, creating a community by bringing together students who are on the same course but may not be in the same classes. These societies can help you 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 you can pick and choose which elements you 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.

Things to be aware of when considering societies:

• They are associated with a students’ union (SU), which is independent from the university. You will automatically become a member of your SU unless you 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, you can pay online or in person at your SU. The payment is not associated with the tuition loan and is separate from your studies, even if you 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), you can attend fairs where you can meet the students who run the clubs and societies and can often try them out!

• If you would like to join a society that does not yet exist, you 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."

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