Student society

From Academic Kids

A student society or student organization is an organization, operated by students at a university, whose membership normally consists only of students. Student societies often aim to facilitate a particular activity or promote a belief system. They are usually affiliated with the university's students' union.

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
  • Science fiction society - Meeting to watch science fiction TV and films.
  • Taekwondo society, Karate club - Meeting to learn martial arts.



European student societies

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)
  • JADE
  • 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.

Student societies by country


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.
  • Qaestor: 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, canti, 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: new inductees are called shit or embryo, and become schacht after a baptism. For one year following the "baptism", schacht students have almost no rights, and are made to suffer. This suffering is ended by an ontgroening, after which one becomes a normal member 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


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, and some - among them the so-called Burschenschaften - are right-wing or downright nationalistic.

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) or StuVe (Studentische Vertretung).

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.

See also:


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