UWE Bristol students lead national awards for University Student Societies

Issue date: 01 June 2016

Students' Union at UWE new building credit: John Seaman

Students at the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) have launched a National Annual Award Ceremony to recognise the excellent work done by student societies at universities across the country.

With support from the National Union of Students (NUS) and UK Youth as the national charity sponsor, a group of seven from the Students' Union at UWE Bristol have developed and set up the National Societies Awards which will be hosted in the state-of-the-art new Students' Union building on Frenchay Campus on 4 June 2016.

The idea behind the Annual Awards event is to give recognition to the thousands of societies at universities throughout the country who develop and enhance the experience of students through their enthusiasm and hard work. There is currently no formal award that recognises the value of the work done by societies at universities across the UK.

UWE Bristol has 110 societies with over 500 committee members and over 4500 registered members.

The National Societies Awards aims to credit a society's efforts, grant them national acknowledgment, and enable them to build relationships with like-minded students so they can collaborate and share ideas to improve their own societies.

Societies play a key role in developing students whilst they are studying at University, often providing key skills, experience and knowledge that inspires them and helps them take their career one step further.

Gem Heywood, Vice President of Societies and Communication for the Students' Union at UWE set up and led the development of the new awards. She said, “I had a vision of providing credibility and recognition for the great work of societies, and being able to showcase the best of the best at universities. It will be a benchmark of what societies are doing across the country. Involvement in societies can help students gain practical experience in the areas that inspire them, and because they are student-led there are loads of opportunities to lead and try out new skills.

“I want the awards to result in students striving to 'do more' and 'be more' to get recognition for their efforts, achievements and successes that they can highlight on their CVs. This in turn will enhance their employability and graduate opportunities.

“While I was studying marketing I joined the Pole Fitness Society, and this inspired me to set up and launch a South West regional competition. I gained practical experience of creating events, setting goals and achieving objectives and this has inspired me to pursue a career in Event Management.

“The practical experience I gained from leading a student society has had a direct effect on my career aspirations and I want to make sure that other students are aware of how much this can benefit them. As well as being fun and sociable, being involved in student societies can provide skills, experience and inspiration for life outside of University as well as frequently being a way of contributing to the local community. Leading or being involved in a society can show a future employer that you have skills, interests and commitment compatible with your chosen career.

“Students sometimes feel that they are too busy with their degree and don't always know what is possible to do through joining a society. We want these awards to showcase the very best examples of student societies and let other students know what is possible to achieve at University.”

UWE Bristol is sponsoring a bursary for outstanding contribution from an individual. Deputy Vice-Chancellor Helen Lloyd Wildman says, “We are proud of the initiative and effort of the UWE team in proactively setting up these awards. Here at UWE Bristol, student societies play a key role in creating a rounded experience for students, many of them enhance student learning that is directly related to their course. Student societies are led by students and provide a setting where students can hone their leadership and other skills, which ultimately enhance their employability; no doubt a major contributory factor in 95% of UWE Bristol graduates being in work or further study six months after graduating. We are pleased to be able to sponsor the award and we look forward to hosting the event here at UWE.”

There have been 174 nominations for 36 universities.

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