Students at Glasgow are spoilt for choice during Freshers’ Week due to the University’s unique position of having not one, but four student-led unions; all of which are extremely active in providing services to students, albeit in different ways.
There is the Students’ Representative Council (SRC), concerned with student welfare, volunteering and representing students to the University. The Glasgow University Sports Association (GUSA) oversees the sports clubs and recreation activities. Then there are the Queen Margaret Union (QMU) and the Glasgow University Union (GUU), two entertainment/social unions with unique heritages who offer their own take on a similar range of services to students, such as a relaxed place to eat, drink and socialise, club nights and places to study when the library gets too packed.
As you can imagine, having four separate student bodies means that there is a healthy amount of cross-campus rivalry, which reaches a climax during Freshers’ Week. Over the five days, the unions and their helpers go above and beyond to serve up special events and souped-up versions of their regular weekly fayre to try and top their campus rivals and tempt you to become part of their community. On top of this, you have over 300 student societies, 50 sports clubs and seven student media groups all looking for you to join their gang.
The Freshers’ Band allows you full access to everything these groups have on offer. Not every event will require you to present it, particularly some of those that take place during the day, but for all of the big night-time parties the band is a must. See it as your meal-ticket to an all you can eat buffet: use it wisely and fill your plate.
Students’ Representative Council
The SRC is unique on campus; it exists to represent and protect the rights of you and your fellow students throughout your time at Glasgow University. As well as sitting on over 50 University committees, the SRC also offers confidential advice and information to students facing any kind of problem. Getting involved in activities outside your course work can mean the difference between having a good time at University and having an amazing one. The SRC offers many valuable volunteering opportunities: you can host a radio show with Subcity, help the homeless with Glasgow University Service to the Homeless, help in schools with Classroom Support or choose from more than 300 clubs and societies. It also operates the late-night Freshers’ Week buses taking you home after a night out in one of the Unions and a second-hand bookshop.
The SRC’s flagship event during Freshers’ Week is the two day Freshers’ Fair, which is your chance to see what you can get involved in while at university. The fair is packed full of clubs, societies and local businesses keen to talk to you; a couple of trips are recommended, if for nothing but the freebies and goody bags. You really should get involved with something while at Glasgow; what are you going to say to employers when they ask “So what else did you do at university?” Answering “Watched every episode of Game of Thrones in 3 days” isn’t going to cut it.
The Gilchrist Postgraduate Club, just through the Main Gate, is jointly run by the SRC and the University, offering postgraduates a social space serving barista coffee, alcoholic drinks and a range of food. The space will be open all week, so head down to check it out and consider getting involved in September’s welcome events.
The SRC Freshers’ Helpers are in blue t-shirts and are the crew to ask about all of the above and anything else that might be on your mind.
Glasgow University Sports Association
GUSA is the University’s (well-toned) sports body. Our recently upgraded playground can be found in the Stevenson Building (“the Stevie”) on Oakfield Avenue, and now offers a swimming pool, steam room, sauna, three studios, a cardio suite, a strength and conditioning suite and TWO sports halls. All of the above makes it one of the best facilities available in the country so there really is no excuse not to get involved! Gym membership is among the cheapest in the UK and there is free access for all students during Freshers’ Week.
There are 50 sports clubs affiliated to GUSA, offering everything from aikido to wakeboarding, as well as pretty much everything sporting in between. Almost all the clubs offer taster sessions during Freshers’ Week, giving you the chance to try out a new sport and maybe meet your future teammates. Some sessions are held at the off-campus outdoor facility at Garscube Sports Complex, but free minibuses will shuttle you from the University’s Main Gate if you’re keen for an adventure.
Tuesday and Wednesday of Freshers’ Week sees GUSA’s affiliated clubs set up stalls in the main hall of the Stevie giving you the chance to chat to their members, check out demonstrations of their sports and scribble your email address down to stay in touch.
Look out for our GUSA helpers — the keenest and friendliest bunch on campus! They’ll let you know the schedule of taster sessions or answer any questions you have on sport at the University, as well as try to convince you to come along to the annual GUSA Freshers’ Week party. Usually held on the Wednesday, the GUSA party is a night of fancy dress and themed decorations as the helpers lose their #blackandgold uniform in favour of facepaint and costumes and flaunt their athleticism on the dance floor.
Queen Margaret Union
The Queen Margaret Union started its life on campus 126 years ago as the women’s Union, and that spirit of inclusiveness has remained with it throughout its history. The QMU prides itself on being a welcoming place full of friendly faces, and it has always put a big emphasis on campaigning and charity work.
But what the QMU is most proud of is its incredible history of playing host to some of the best live music to ever visit Glasgow. In the past bands like Queen, The Smiths, Nirvana, Biffy Clyro, Franz Ferdinand, and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers to name but a few all cut their teeth on the main stage in the QMU before becoming mega stars. Rumour has it that a setlist featuring Kurt Cobain’s footprint still remains in the QMU somewhere.
Last Freshers’ Week saw a DJ set from Radio 1’s Scott Mills, Radio Clyde host a night of the very best of Scottish Music including Fatherson and The LaFontaines, the Freshers’ Ball (the classiest show in town), and a big messy foam party. If that sounds a bit much then they hold a load of more chill daytime events, with everything from speed mating to help you meet a load of new pals to pub quizzes and creative writing workshops. There really is something for everyone at the QMU.
Grab one of their red t-shirt-wearing Helpers and they will be delighted to tell you everything there is to know about the Queen Margaret Union.
Glasgow University Union
GUU is the other of the two social unions on campus. From the grand old building at the bottom of University Avenue, they offer their take on the complete social package for students at the University.
Freshers’ Week sees the GUU transformed into a hub of activity. In previous years events such as al-Fresco open mic, the Big All-Day Games Event (BADGE), live stand-up comedy and tours of the historic building have lit-up the daytime schedule, while some renowned names in live music have taken to the stage at night. The last couple of years have seen Scottish indie heavyweights Fatherson and We Were Promised Jetpacks top their live music bills, and guest DJs have included Pendulum and old Radio One master DJ Edith Bowman. Keep an eye out for some of the union’s daytime events which have been known to feature international student fairs, mini Comic-Cons and pub quizzes in the GUU’s main bar, The Beer Bar.
In addition to the GUU’s renowned partying prowess, the Union is famous for its debating history; Charles Kennedy, Sir Menzies Campbell and Liam Fox all cut their teeth in the old building’s Debates Chamber. The GUU has produced more World Debates champions than any other University. If arguing and rhetoric are your thing, the GUU hosts an annual Freshers’ Week debate, which has counted Lembit Opik, Hazel Blears and Andrew Neil among the guest speakers at the event in recent times.
Donning lime-green t-shirts, the GUU helpers will be hard to miss should you have any questions, or just want someone to play snooker against in the Union’s billiards room.
The Gilchrist Postgraduate Club
The SRC’s Gilchrist Postgraduate Club is a dedicated space for all postgraduate students at the University of Glasgow — a first of its kind in Scotland. The club provides ample social and study space for postgraduates and staff of the University, allowing both to engage with one another in a comfortable and relaxing environment.
The club also features a bookable seminar room, which can be hired out by postgraduates for academic and social events; from conferences and workshops or for practicing presentations or group meetings, as well as reading groups or film screenings — the list is endless. Not only that, but it is also free for postgraduates to book the seminar room out.
The Gilchrist also has large study booths that have integrated TV screens with AV connections, allowing students to link-up their laptops and watch presentations or videos through the large screen so everyone around the booth can see — perfect for group study sessions before or after a seminar.
The Gilchrist hosts numerous events throughout the year, with a great mix of PG relevant workshops and conferences, everything from “Presenting with Impact” to PGT “Dissertation Creation” classes. Not only are their numerous academic focused events held to help make your degree as diverse and as fascinating as possible, the club also hosts a variety of fun and interesting social events, including cultural events such as a Burns Supper and Chinese New Year, as well as quizzes and film nights. The club is also home for many postgraduate networks and groups, which are great to get involved with.
The club has its own unique cafe that serves the “best coffee on campus” with our Barista tea and coffee making facilities. There is also a wide selection of hot and cold foods, including paninis and nachos that are only available at The Gilchrist. We also have our very own Gilchrist bar with a wide selection of alcoholic beverages, including bottled beers, ciders, wines and spirits.