It’s not all work. Our universities and colleges will help you make the most of all the opportunities and experiences on offer outside the library and lecture theatre.

The students’ union

The union is the centre of student life. It’s run by students for students, and overseen by a dedicated sabbatical committee. You’re automatically a member, and you won’t have to pay to belong.

All our universities and colleges have highly regarded unions (in the 2022 Whatuni Student Choice Awards, Wales had two student’s unions in the top five, with Cardiff University’s rated second in the UK, and Bangor University’s fifth). They run campaigns on student issues, represent your interests to university authorities and provide welfare and advice services.

You’re likely to use their facilities on a daily basis, such as food outlets, stationery shops, general stores, cafés and bars. They also put on a programme of entertainment throughout the year, from socials and club nights to gigs by big-name bands.

They also offer student discount cards that are widely accepted. Most unions are affiliated to NUS Wales, the national union. Last but not least, they can be a great source of paid or voluntary work, earning you valuable experience for your CV.

Surfers on Beach

Clubs and societies

Whatever your interests, you’ll find plenty of likeminded people at our universities – and more likely than not, they’ll have formed a club or society. Societies can be course-based (such as law, maths or economics societies), cultural and international (Malaysian, African-Caribbean or Nordic societies) or cater for identity groups (LGTB+ society).

Artistic and musical societies are well represented, as are charities, awareness campaigns and gaming groups. You can get involved in student media: Bangor’s Seren and Cardiff University’s Gair Rhydd are among Britain’s best-known student publications. And if you can’t find the right society, you can always start your own!

Sporting activities

Wales is a sporting nation – something that’s most obvious when the national rugby or football team are playing, and everyone comes together to give support.

Whichever sports you’ve practised at home, you’ll almost certainly be able to carry them on at university or college. And if you’re up for a new challenge, you can check out some of the more unusual sporting societies: how about ultimate frisbee, kendo, korfball or quidditch?

You could even end up representing your university, with the chance to compete in student competitions all over Britain. And once a year, more than half of Wales’ universities run Varsity events, when rival institutions clash in a range of different sports. Swansea take on Cardiff University, Aberystwyth compete with Bangor, and Cardiff Met cross the English border to battle it out with Bath University. Whether you’re playing on a team or there to cheer your university on, it’s an unforgettable day out.

Related stories

Surfer on the beach

Why Wales?

Nearly 130,000 students are enrolled on courses at our universities. Here are 10 reasons why you should join them.

Funding Options

International and domestic students in Wales may be eligible for financial support, including scholarships, grants and bursaries, depending on where you live.