Teens show some team spirit

January 31, 1997

The Government's bid to encourage military training for all teenagers has drawn attention to the role of cadets in higher education.

Every year the army tries, principally at freshers' events, to recruit students to the University Officers Training Corps (UOTC). Major Matthew Whitchurch, an army recruitment officer, said: "The UOTC is about developing things that possibly our society doesn't do well; like helping others, being unselfish, and taking on responsibility."

But many students know very little about the college branches of the territorial army. This academic year a quarter of students' unions banned the UOTC from recruiting at unions, because of the army's stance on homosexuality, and the army lost access to tens of thousands of students. This year 3,000 students joined the UOTC.

Many students use the Pounds 25.11 per day that UOTC pays to supplement their grants. Christina Marcham, an anthropology student at the University of Kent in Canterbury, said: "I get paid the same amount as my friends who are doing bar and restaurant work and I really enjoy this."

A UOTC corps demands a substantial commitment. Cadets are must attend one night a week, and one weekend a month, in addition to an annual two-week camp. Training weekends involve sleeping in the open and basic military training.

In their second year cadets are encouraged to specialise and take up junior command appointments, giving them practical experience of leadership.

Nicola Godfrey, an international tourism management student at Brighton University, was one of 14 British students chosen to spend their summer working for a United States senator. She spent ten weeks in Washington researching the role of NATO.

"All the others on the scholarship were Oxbridge students, and I can only think that I was picked because of my involvement with the UOTC," she said.

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