Membership of extra-curricular societies and involvement in student unions is a great way to get the most out of your university time. As well as looking
great on your CV and learning vital skills which will transfer into the world of employment, it is also beneficial to your social life. London has some of the most established, high-profile student organisations in the world who work tirelessly to help their members as well change the world around them. Here are a selection of the oldest groups.
Grimshaw International Relations Club (1921)
London School of Economics’ student union society of the International Relations Department was founded in the 1920s. Covering all areas of international relations, the Grimshaw club holds debates with influential speakers and organises trips around the globe. The club were embroiled in some controversy in 2013 when the BBC travelled to North Korea with the club and, according to LSE, put students at risk by filming undercover footage of the notoriously secretive nation for a documentary. Past Speakers at the club have included Former British Foreign Secretary, Lord Hurd, South African High Commissioner, Ranendra Sen, and former Lebanese Prime Minister, Rafiq Hariri.
King’s College London Student Union (1908)
Formed in 1908, King’s College London’s student union may not be the oldest student union in the country, but it’s certainly not far off. KCLSU is based in the Macadam Building with bases also in Denmark Hill, Guy’s House and Waterloo, too. Sir Ivison Macadam, founding member of the National Union of Students, is said to be the most famous president of the KCLSU. The current president is Sebasitaan Debrouwere who got re-elected in March 2014 with a record 2,130 votes. The union has 265 activity groups, societies and sports clubs with a total membership of around 15,000 students.
University College London Union (1893)
Established in 1893, UCLU could very well be the oldest student union in England. It’s 200 or more clubs and societies span all areas of student life and leisure, covering everything from Advertising, Marketing and PR to a Workers’ Liberty Society. UCLU sticks to its founding principles of ‘the promotion of social intercourse and of the means of recreation, physical and mental, of the students of UCL, and the financial successes of students’ clubs.’ The union is very proactive in getting involved with the local community, with numerous volunteer opportunities. The union also campaigns for chosen political causes such as a 2012 demo against fees, cuts, debt and privatisation.
UCL Conservative Society (1908)
With a history stretching back over 105 years, the UCL Conservative Society is the oldest of its kind in the country, as well as the second oldest in the UK – behind Glasgow University’s Conservative Association, founded back in 1836. The organisation promotes itself as the most active conservative student group, with weekly events during term time. The society’s roll call of speakers is an impressive one, with former Defence Secretary Liam Fox, Chanceller Geoffrey Howe, and Nobel Peace Prize winner Lord Trimble all addressing the society in the last few years.
Feature image: an illustration of Hampton Court Palace, Circa 1800s.