Student society

A student society or student organization is an organization, operated by students at a university, whose membership normally consists only of students. They are often affiliated with a university's students' union. Student societies often aim to facilitate a particular activity or promote a belief system, although some (explicitly) require nothing more than that a member is a (former) student. Some are not affiliated with a specific university and/or accept non-university students.

Typical examples are:

    * Faculty society - uniting students from one university faculty.
* Regional society - uniting students from the same region or hometown.
* Debating society - political debates.
* Film society - Often using lecture theatres to show films cheaply on campus.
* Hiking club - Organising trips.
* International student society - Introducing international students to one another.
* Music society - student ensembles.
* Civil Society - To encourage polite behaviour among future leaders.
* Science fiction society - Meeting to watch science fiction TV and films.
* Taekwondo society, Karate club - Meeting to learn martial arts.

Student societies by location


In Flanders, student societies play a unique role in student life. Student societies there have traditionally been politically active, and they played a significant part in the 1960s division of the Catholic University of Leuven into separate Flemish and Walloon universities.

A student society in Belgium is led by a praesidium. The head of the praesidium (and the society) is the praeses. Alternative spellings are presidium and preses. For most positions, Dutch names are used nowadays.

Other positions include:

    * Vice-praeses: assists the praeses where needed.
* Quaestor: takes care of the money.
* Ab-actis: the secretary of the student organisation.
* Cantor: Leads the cantus.
* Vertor: Organises cultural activities.
* Scriptor: Is responsible for creating a magazine.
* Bacchus: Makes sure there is enough beer.
* Dominus morum: Is responsible for keeping order at a cantus.

Positions are flexible, and change to meet the needs of the student organisation.

Student societies used to be politically engaged, but are now more focused on organizing parties, cantus, and cultural activities.

Student societies also exist at polytechnics.

New members go through an initiation ritual before becoming full members of a Belgian student society. A new member is called schacht and has to undergo a baptism. The baptism is the first step to integration in the student society. The next (and last) step to becoming a full-fledged member is the ontgroening. After the ontgroening, one becomes a normal member or commilito of the organization, and can join the praesidium if one so chooses. Normal members are also referred to as anciens.


In Europe, there are several continent-wide student organisations fostering exchange among students of different nationalities and Culture, such as

    * AEGEE (European Students Forum), trying to spread the European Idea
* AIESEC (worldwide student organisation)
* IAESTE (worldwide student organisation)
* ESN (Erasmus Student Network), promoting student mobility in Europe and beyond; present in over 200 universities / 28 countries; 35.000 member (by 04.2006)
* Studentenforum im Tönissteiner Kreis e. V. (Student Forum within the Tönissteiner Kreis, a politically and confessionally independent, interdisciplinary student think tank fostering European and international cooperation)
* Bonding

with a different range of topics and activities.

There is also the National Unions of Students in Europe, a representative student organisation at European level, notably within the Bologna process.


In Germany, student societies are wide-spread and various, though by lack of support from the universities (and by force of variety), generally do not boast many members. The most popular are the Studentenverbindungen; most of them are moderate and tolerant, although many are restricted to male or Christian members.

The counterpart to these more conservative organisations are left-wing and anti-fascist student organisations as AntiFa or Praxis (in Bavaria).

On many universities - although in many states not officially recognised - there are student representations, called AStA (Allgemeiner Studenten-Ausschuss), StuVe (Studentische Vertretung) or StuRa (Studentenrat).

Other organisations include European Student Associations and the student organisations of the German political parties

Yet, there are also politically and confessionally independent, interdisciplinary and not-for-profit student organisations. One of, if not the leading one in Germany is the Studentenforum im Tönissteiner Kreis e. V. (Student Forum within the Tönissteiner Kreis e. V.) that is part of a European and worldwide network of student organizations, the Politeia Community.


Student societies are widespread in Ireland's universities, with a wide range of activities catered for, including debating, role-play, gaming, faculty-based activities, performing arts, political activity etc. The range of support for societies varies from university to university, though all universities provide funding and facilities to some extent for societies.

A student society in Ireland is led by a committee or council. The head of the society and the committee is the Auditor.



In the Netherlands, originally there was just the Corps (for corpus studiorosum), student bodies, founded in the early 19th century, as a part of the governing of the education on the universities and to give students the opportunity to develop themselves in all fields of life. On the wave of catholic emancipation starting in the 1890s, small groups of students, gathered around local priests, split off from the liberal, secular (in name anyway) corps fraternities to form their own societies focused on the catholic religion. This started the formation of many other religious societies in the different university cities. In the second half of the 20th century the Catholic split-offs formed an intercity-connection; the Aller Heiligen Convent and the focus on the religion was lost or abandoned, after which the AHC societies became identity-less, rather hollow beer-gardens, quickly shrinking in size in the 1980s. A new identity was found in claiming to be open party places without real hazing, in a way to distinct themselves from the 'corpora' that were still as alive as ever. But the corpora being old, often actually in very old, imposing buildings with little opportunity to see what happened inside, had a traditional, conservative image, even before a new student takes the feared two weeks of hazing in account, that exists in both types of societies, but is feared more at the corpora. In reality the AHC organisations still have a full blown, often badly managed introductionarry hazing en offer students little more than a football, a field hockey, a sailing and a theater club, where the corpora, still being liberal and 'free spirited' offer a wide range of sports, cultural activities ranging from all levels of sports like field hockey, rowing and rugby to extremes like kitesurfing, glider-flying, all for student-friendly prices and development aid organisations and encouragement to start a new club of some sort at all times. The 20th century also saw, especially in the 1960s, the formation of more societies, partly as a reaction against the elite status of the corps, abolishing hazing and religious links and some even opening up to non-students. These days in the main university cities the largest student societies are typically the Corps and AHC societies, often with around 2000 members each, followed by the other organisations with membership numbering in the several hundreds.

Another notable Dutch student society is STAR (Study Association RSM Erasmus University), with 5,500 members one of Europe's largest student societies, which is a society without hazing and religious links. STAR has seen a considerable growth over the 1990s, partly due to the changing student culture in Rotterdam. Smaller group of the members, around 250, are 'active' and are selected on the basis of skills and competence to manage and lead within the association. This had led to a more 'professionalized' culture inclined towards professional organized events including e.g. large-scale parties with 4,000 participants. In 2006, STAR had a revenue of €1.5 million, which is fully invested into student development in all aspects of student life. As far as other university cities in the Netherlands, the situation in Rotterdam can be deemed unique.

Outside of the Netherlands, NEWS Clubs organise Dutch activities and borrels for Dutch students abroad, while Netherlands Worldwide Students coordinates events in the Netherlands (the biannual 'NEWS Jaardagen').


Student leisure activities in Sweden are usually organised by the students' unions (studentkårer, studentkår in singular). Swedish student unions cover the whole area from arranging most of the big parties, cultural activities and sports event, to acting as an equivalent of trade union for the students so their voices can be heard regarding the content and forms of education. The union is usually divided in smaller parts called sections, sektioner, according to what subjects of programs the students study. Student union membership is compulsory according to law, although many students never see another face of the students' union than that of the party organiser. Generally all kinds of smaller societies, political, religious or just dealing with different kinds of hobbies, are organised within the students' union rather than as separate units.

An exception to this are the two ancient universities in Uppsala and Lund. There, most activities except "trade union" issues are organised by the student nations, the oldest student societies in Sweden, now thirteen at each university. The Uppsala nations have a history stretching back to ca 1630-1640, and were likely formed under the influence of the Landsmannschaften in existence at the northern German universities frequented by Swedish students. The nations in Lund were formed at the time of the foundation of the university (1666) or shortly thereafter. The nations take the names from the Swedish provinces from which they traditionally recruited their members, but do not always adhere to the strict practice of limiting membership according to those principles.

International organizations

* BEST - Board of European Students of Technology
* IAESTE - The International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience
* IAESTE India
* NACURH - National Association of College and University Residence Halls
* Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP)
* Colleges Against Cancer
* Secular Student Alliance
* Toronto Secular Alliance
* STAR Study Association RSM Erasmus University
* AEGEE - European Students Forum


Philox connecting European students. Tips and tools for studying abroad, Erasmus, internships and career.