World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Student society

Article Id: WHEBN0000322977
Reproduction Date:

Title: Student society  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: University Philosophical Society, Arbeitskreis Börse, Cambridge Dancers' Club, Kalmar Nation, Lund, Philolexian Society
Collection: Clubs and Societies, Student Organizations
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Student society

A student society, student association, university society or student organization is a students at a university or a college institution, whose membership typically consists only of students and/or alumni.

Early notable types of student societies include nation (university) from the middle ages, Studentenverbindung in the German speaking world, as well as the evolvement of student orders and student fraternities internationally.

Aims may invole practice and propagation of a certain professional hobby or cause, or to promote professional development. Examples of common societies found in most universities are a debate society, an international student society, a rock society, and student chapters of professional societies (e.g. the American Chemical Society). Not all societies are based around such a large area of interest and many universities also find themselves home to societies for many obscure hobbies such as a Neighbours society.

Student societies typically have open membership, thus differing from non-profit organizations this fee is often nominal and purely exists to cover insurance or to fund society events.

Student societies may or may not be 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 present or former student. Additionally, some are not affiliated with a specific university and/or accept non-university students.


  • Examples 1
  • Student societies by location 2
    • Australia 2.1
    • Belgium 2.2
      • Flanders 2.2.1
      • Francophone Belgians 2.2.2
    • Canada 2.3
    • Estonia 2.4
    • European-wide 2.5
    • Germany 2.6
    • Indonesia 2.7
    • Ireland 2.8
    • Netherlands 2.9
    • Norway 2.10
    • Sweden 2.11
  • International organizations 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5


Typical examples are:

Student societies by location


In Australia, student societies play an important role in university life by bringing together like minded students to engage in activities the society seeks to promote.



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 Flanders 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: Is responsible for alcoholic beverages. (Title taken from the Roman name for Dionysus)
  • 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 Flemish 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.

See also: Education in Belgium

Francophone Belgians

In Wallonia and Brussels, several types of francophone student societies exist:

  • A cercle regroup students from the same faculty
  • A regionale regroup students coming from the same location
  • An ordre regroup students around some aspects of the student folklore or traditions

These societies sometimes have traditions dating back a hundred years, such as wearing one of the two traditional student hats: the Penne or the parties or festivals (for example, the 24 hours bike ride of Louvain-la-Neuve or the St V).


The Canada, and currently the most extensive in regard to student involvement. It is currently a multi-million corporation employing over 500 students. The day-to-day operations of the AMS are overseen by the AMS Council which includes an annually elected three-person executive (the President, Vice-President (Operations) and Vice-President (University Affairs), selected as a slate), five commissioners who are each responsible for a specific aspect of student life, and three directors who are responsible for overseeing the AMS’ 14 corporate services.


Estonian Students' Society (Estonian: Eesti Üliõpilaste Selts commonly used acronym: EÜS) is the largest and oldest all-male academical student society in Estonia, which is similar to Baltic German student corporations (should not be confused with American college fraternities). It was founded in 1870 at the University of Tartu. It has over 800 members in Estonia and abroad.

In Estonia are 10 academical male student corporations. They are joined in League of Estonian Corporations, which was founded on March 28, 1915 by Vironia, Fraternitas Estica, Sakala, Ugala and Rotalia. Estonian student corporations have hundreds of members and alumni worldwide, because after the Soviet annexation of Estonia many members fled to Western countries.

Added to them there are one female student society: Estonian Women Students' Society, five female student corporations: Filiae Patriae, Indla, Lembela, Amicitia, Sororitas Estoniae.


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)
  • BEST (European student organisation)
  • Bonding
  • EESTEC (Electrical Engineering Students' European Association)
  • EFPSA - European Federation of Psychology Students' Associations
  • EMSA - European Medical Students' Association
  • ESN (Erasmus Student Network), promoting student mobility in Europe and beyond.
  • ESTIEM (European student organisation)
  • EUROAVIA (European Association of Aerospace Students)
  • IAESTE (worldwide student organisation)
  • International Students of History Association
  • oikos (worldwide student organisation)
  • JEF Young European Federalists - a pan-European network promoting the idea of European Integration

There is also the Bologna process.


In Germany, student societies are widespread 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 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 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.

See also:


Student societies in Indonesia play a very important role since freedom struggle (before 1945), such as Budi Oetomo, Islamic Students of Indonesia (PII), and after freedom struggle like Muhammadiyah Student Association (IPM).


Student societies are widespread in Ireland's universities, with a wide range of activities catered for, including debating, performing arts, role-play, faculty-based activities, gaming, 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.

Student societies are usually governed by Officers and a Committee with an "Auditor" at its head. The Biological Society, RCSI's main student society, is purportedly the oldest student medical society in the world. However, it is Trinity College, Dublin which is the location of College Historical Society (1770) and the University Philosophical Society (1683), the two oldest student societies in the world.

Examples include:


In the Netherlands, there are different forms of student societies. Originally there was just the Corps (for corpus studiosorum), student bodies, starting with the Groninger Studenten Corps Vindicat atque Polit in the city of Groningen on 4 February 1815, 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.

These societies are now known as student associations in the Netherlands, aimed mostly at social relations and 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 independent societies at the universities itself, 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 non-Corps student societies are known as study associations (aimed at extracurricular activities for students, such as study trips, lectures, parties or drinks) or are general associations, for sports, literature, arts, etc., founded at the university itself.


The tradition with student societys in Norway reaches back too 1813, when Norwegian Students' Society in Oslo was founded. The major student societies in Norway are those in Oslo, Trondheim and Bergen. The societies in Oslo and Trondheim operates the student houses, and do also have subgroups who are engaged in theatre, political debates, radio, TV and newspaper. Bergen Student Society are not in charge of the citys student house, but are arranging political debates, lectures and cultural discussions at Det Akademiske Kvarter.

A Norwegian tradition is to appoint an animal as the high protector or majesty of the student societies, such as His Majesty the Golden Pig (Oslo), The Black Sheep (Trondheim) and His Majesty the Hedgehog (Bergen). The zoological Majesties have their own order of honours, awarded to members of the student soscieties and member of the academic staff at the institutuons, as well as visiting members of the Norwegian royal family.


Student leisure activities in Sweden are usually 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

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.