Joining university societies as a student can open up all kinds of doors for you. They can offer you everything from trips, new friendships and a taste of what you might want to do once you finish your degree.

But what if you joined a society that could pay you to do amazing things, like sail across the British Channel, fly in a helicopter, go abroad (more than once)…and give you the skills you need to boost your CV when you graduate?

The University Royal Navy Units (URNUs) are not your average university societies. There are 15 URNUs in Britain, which recruit from local universities (including Cardiff, Swansea and the University of South Wales).

Their members are ordinary students who have extraordinary experiences. They all receive first-class training in dozens of subjects and achieve professional-standard qualifications that can be used in lots of jobs.

Students do get a taste of life and the opportunities in the Royal Navy, but there’s absolutely no commitment for them to join the armed forces afterwards.

URNU life

“The thing I love most about URNU is the range of experiences you get from one organisation. I’ve been caving in Mid Wales, helped pull a Land Rover for charity, attended mess dinners, sailed across the British channel on a navy vessel, flown in a helicopter and so much more in just one year, it’s hard to choose one thing as my favourite part.” – Esther Bowdler

What’s life like as a member of URNU in Wales?

During term time, you’ll meet at the unit once a week for a training night, where you’ll learn about various aspects of the Royal Navy and complete a training syllabus.

This training is very important, as it helps you to earn a Chartered Management Institute leadership qualification and prepares you to embark on the affiliated ship, HMS Express, and to complete deployments at sea.

The Royal Navy pays a bounty to students for attending these training nights and other activities.

There’ll also be plenty of opportunities for you to take part in sports, socials and adventures. You can expect to be offered to try everything from the 3 Peaks Challenge, Formal Dinners and visits to Royal Navy Ships, to air experience flights, Royal Navy Rugby sevens tournaments and even deployments abroad.

“I didn’t plan on joining URNU but I’m glad I did, I was looking for a society that was a little different and I found one! I’ve enjoyed the deployments the most, I’ve been to France, Sweden, Poland and Denmark this year alone. They’re always busy, hard work and so much fun, never a dull moment.” – Danny Withers

Twice a year (during Easter and Summer) you’ll deploy on HMS Express for sea training. While on board, you’ll visit a number of ports around the UK and Europe; this summer the recruits have visited Poland, Sweden, Germany and Holland.

Give it a go

“I joined URNU because I wanted to see whether I wanted to join the Navy after university. I stayed because I found a great group of people that have made my university experience so unique and fun, I couldn’t imagine uni without it.” – Sian Pierce

Wales URNU recruits from Cardiff University, Swansea University and the University of South Wales, and if you’d like to give it a go, you can find URNU and apply at your university’s Fresher’s Fair.

You’ll have to complete a short application process and if you’re successful, you can become a member of the unit for the duration of your time at university.

CLICK HERE (and scroll down)  to find out more about URNU, or to contact the unit.

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