Students can join all societies and sports for a set fee, in new rules announced by The Students’ Union, that have been met with concern, fear and some optimism.
Under the new structure, students can access all 49 sports groups for a £20 fee, and all 100 societies for £3 throughout the first semester.
The announcement is part of The SU’s attempt to “keep the student experience alive and thriving in a socially-distant world”, by providing access to both virtual and in-person activities, where government guidelines allow.
Many groups are hopeful that the more affordable membership fee will encourage students to try a greater variety of sports and societies, increasing membership numbers.
“Taking away the commitment from having a specific membership will hopefully mean more people try [rowing].”Chair of University of Bath Boat Club, John Laurenson.
Others have voiced concerns that accessing money in this new way may be difficult and will ultimately reduce funding, restricting what they can do.
“The decision may bring financial insecurity to many of our wonderful societies… this could potentially decrease the quality and quantity of opportunities.”Spokesperson of BUSMS, the student musical society.
For football, the largest sport at Bath, there’s concern that any potential loss in funding from the centralisation process could lead to a drop of quality and quantity of football – given the variable cost of referees and tournament fees. With all the speculation about what level of funding will be available when term starts, the risk of potentially losing BUCS teams is one that scares them, with Bath’s 3s and 4s consistently performing at a really high level.
However, for some sports and societies students may have to pay an additional fee to get fully involved, covering costs such as insurance, transport, and competition fees. A weightlifting team member asked: “How many sessions before people should start paying? What happens in Semester 2 when we go back to the old system?”
Many of these costs will be subsidised for sports groups, but it has not been made clear whether equivalent subsidies will be available to societies.
“We had big plans for this year and were hoping for a lot of funding to help with that. We won’t get that anymore and will instead at first get the same amount as clubs that aren’t able to put on half as much.”Matthew Harbour, Tennis chair.
“I feel requesting from a central pot might be challenging,” Zuza Markovska, the chair of Bath Video Game Society, tells Bath Time, “as I’d imagine The SU is aiming to give all societies equal opportunities to apply for funding, which on paper is great, but in reality some societies don’t necessarily need funding or won’t need it due to changes they’ve made in light of COVID…I fear BVGS might not have the funds we need to continue our normal function and it may hinder our offering.”
Chair of Music Soc, Khalid Al Kooheji, “shaken” by the changes, concluded that “the year will not be easy, but I’m excited nonetheless.”
Tom Sawko, Sport Officer at The SU Bath said: “One of our main priorities in our return to the new normal has been ensuring safe, fun ways to get involved in communities at Bath. For sport this means that the numbers allowed at in-person sessions will be limited by government, National governing body and facility guidance.
Working within these guidelines, this structure allows us to flex the overall in-person sporting offer and ensure an excellent virtual offer for those that aren’t able to, or comfortable with in-person physical activity just yet. By adopting this new structure, we hope to not only maximise the number of people that can get involved in sport, but the opportunities that people have to get involved in new communities throughout the semester. This also allows for a reduction of the emotional barriers to getting stuck in with our communities at the SU Bath, allowing you to bring your mates along to activities throughout the semester! I think this new structure makes it a really exciting time to be coming back to Bath, in-person, or online!”