New and noteworthy student groups

The best new student groups to get involved in.

Credit: Maria Faciolince

In a university that boasts the oldest-and some might say finest- debating society in Britain, the extent to which clubs and societies associated with St Andrews are well established and well known there comes of no surprise. Its sports clubs compete in national events and its fashion shows are recognised worldwide. Yet there is always the opportunity for new societies to establish themselves and become known in the university community. This is exactly what the following newer additions have done more recently, and have been met with much success.

The St Andrews Branch of the Scottish registered charity Populus began with the intention of reducing feelings of loneliness that students may feel during their time at St Andrews. From your first day to your last, it is important not to underestimate how isolating the university experience can seem at certain times, for all its students. University life incorporates many ‘firsts’ for people. From one’s first time away from home to another’s first relationship, it is only natural that these experiences can seem daunting. Whether you’re having a down day or are feeling a little overwhelmed by work or social life, be sure to attend one of Populus’ frequent and varied socials to meet new people, or simply to try out something new. Events include Pizza and Nacho Nights, Pub Quizzes, Speed Friending and Guide Dog Tea Parties. There really is an event (and a place) for everyone!

The links with communities around the globe that the small yet cosmopolitan town of St Andrews boasts are more evident than ever in the resurgence of the St Andrews branch of Mary’s Meals. The well-known charity was initially founded in Scotland, and its aim is to provide school meal programmes to some of the poorest communities around the world. For the cost of only £13.90, a child can receive a daily meal in a place of education for an entire year, a sum of money which is so minuscule in the grand scheme of things yet ultimately has the potential to transform a child’s life. The committee plans to hold many events this coming academic year, from bake and book sales to a five kilometre run planned for this September. Mary’s Meals St Andrews promises to be a society with the ideal balance: a varied range of events and socials, combined with the chance for its members to genuinely make a difference to a disadvantaged child’s life.

Another society that celebrates the diversity of St Andrews students within the town itself is the South African Society, a newcomer which takes its place amongst the various cultural societies already in existence in St Andrews. Whether you have links with South Africa or you are just passionate about the country and its way of life, the new society will be a hub of activity for all those wanting to get involved. The committee have planned a multitude of events for Freshers’ Week, such as a rugby match on the beach, to take place on South African Heritage Day, 24 September. Later on in the semester the annual braai (barbeque) will take place in Balgove Larder, incorporating South African food and a DJ. Although this event has been successfully run for the past few years, this year will be the first time that it is taking place with an associated society. A range of events have been scheduled for the rest of the academic year, including Current Affairs talks and a trip to the Edinburgh South African Society Ball, where you will have the chance to dance the night away in style.

After a rebranding, Women in Work (formerly called Women in Office) is back with a new focus for the coming academic year. As self-containing as the bubble of St Andrews may often seem, it is important to remember that student life ultimately is about more than nightly pub crawls, late nights at 601, and caffeine induced essay writing. We will all leave university with a degree, in arts or science, a 2:1 or even a first.  Women in Work is a society which is the perfect stepping stone between university and real life, and one of its primary goals is to help female students of St Andrews achieve their dream career paths. Yet the society’s overall goal stretches far beyond student life at St Andrews, as it aims to promote female participation in all careers at all levels. There are still many obstacles that stand in the way of women achieving success in the workplace. These barriers range from socioeconomic, to ethnic, to gender related differences. But Women in Work aims to combat these inequalities head-on, preparing the women of St Andrews to be paramount in the future workplace.

Events planned for the upcoming academic year include bi-monthly networking sessions. Capped at a maximum intake of 9 students, they will be intimate enough for the students attending to really get to know the speaker and have a deeper understanding of their subject. Also on the agenda are skills writing sessions for CVs and interviews, as well as a rebranding launch party this Freshers’ Week. The events promise to equally combine the opportunity to socialise and meet like minded people with learning new career skills, both of which will be useful during your time at St Andrews as well as after graduation.

Forming links with other Scottish universities, as well as St Andrews, is an excellent experience to undertake whilst at university and one that ESUAS (East of Scotland Universities Air Squadron) is proud to offer. ESUAS was established in 2003 and is one of 15 University Air Squadrons across the UK. It brings together students from nine different universities across the east of Scotland, and its participating students gain valuable insight into what a career within the Royal Air Force (RAF) could entail. Whilst many students go on to pursue a career in the RAF, many also go on to other careers after an exciting and unique experience with the ESUAS. ESUAS not only offers paid opportunities to undertake a rigorous flying programme with many students going solo, but also partakes in adventurous training and sporting activities. This summer, students had the opportunity to visit Canada on a two-week canoeing expedition.

Alongside that, the ESUAS have raised over £3000 for charity this year alone, and gone on cultural trips to locations such as Berlin to learn about the role of the RAF in a wider context. Head of Publicity Charlotte Jiggins says, “For me, being part of ESUAS has transformed my time at St Andrews and I would greatly recommend it to any student. It gives you an incredible sense of achievement and purpose aside from your studies through developing valuable skills such as leadership, confidence and teamwork. I have also gained some of my best friends at university through ESUAS and the unique sense of comradery in the Squadron is something which is reinforced through various socials and dining in nights throughout the year”. For students wanting to try an entirely new experience outside of St Andrews that could lead to a career and allow them to develop skills for life, ESUAS will have a booth at Freshers’ Fayre where they can enquire and learn more.

The range of societies and clubs available to join in St Andrews is vast and diverse, and these new additions have helped it to become even more so. Each one has an exclusive experience to offer, from charity work to social nights, from workplace skills to culture. All of them will allow members to meet like minded people and will serve to contribute to the completely unique experience of student life at St Andrews.


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