Before arriving at university, I had a list of societies I wanted to join as long as my arm. I was adamant that I wanted to be involved in at least five, and that would be how I would make all my friends. However, the truth is that I have managed to reach the middle of my degree as a member of only four in total, and half of those ended up being course related societies.
Welcome Week comes along and societies seem to glint promisingly, a representation of what university has to offer. But then it’s over, along with all its opportunities that have been swallowed up by the commitments of work and the pressure of meeting new people. At the Welcome Fair, I found myself, like many others, in the large tent at Portland Hill walking around the cluster of little tables, wondering what would take my fancy. I joined two societies, both revolving around my passion for writing, and collected the codes for the Hill Walking Society, CakeSoc and Film Making Society.
“Immediately it became clear that I would have to prioritise”
What I soon came to realise was that these would all cost money. The reality hit with my first outing with my course, when I was informed about the History Society and other course based ones. I’m a joint honours student, so I looked into joining both. Like most course based societies, they were £5 for the year or £12 for three years. I invested in both and soon realised that there would be a fee for all of my interests. BlogSoc cost £2, it didn’t break the bank, but add that to the price of Film Society £5, CakeSoc £4, Creative Writing £3 and the Book Club £1. Immediately it became clear that I would have to prioritise my passions.
“Are these restrictions hindering our chances to express ourselves?”
When looking into the lists of societies on the Student’s Union home page, so many unique and intimate societies leap out at you; from Hide and Seek Society and CSSA to Duke of Edinburgh, but is it really fair to be charged for these clubs? The geographical and religious groups charge anything from £2 to £5 for membership. Political societies from £2 to £5 also. Are these restrictions hindering our chances to express ourselves?
Compared to other universities, Nottingham stands in line with pricing. For example, the University of East Anglia charges a very similar price for their Creative Writing society, standing at £4. The University of Oxford sees a slight difference in the price for many societies, such as the Irish society, which stands at £5 compared to Nottingham’s £3. Though the prices seem standardised, is it really fair to expect students to pay these stacking prices to maintain their hobbies?
“These entrance fees are seen as a contribution to the upkeep and funding of activities”
What of course must be considered is the societies ability to fund themselves. These entrance fees are seen as a contribution to the upkeep and funding of activities within the clubs themselves. However, is it not down to the University or Student’s Union to help fund these societies? When we are already paying for multiple other elements of university life, at the heart of these costs being the rising tuition fees, should the access to at least our core course societies be free? For many of the course societies they do not provide enough and many of their events such as bar crawls require additional funds.
“What is the price of passion?”
Societies are no doubt an excellent way to meet like minded people and explore hobbies, but the costs can be seen as a hindrance. When you are paying anything up to £5 a society, many students would find themselves limited to the amount of societies that they can join, having to prioritise and not explore all they should. It begs the question, what is the price of passion?