The Southampton University Officer Training Corps (SUOTC) offers a huge variety for anyone wishing to do something else with their time while at university. SUOTC selects a cohort of students every year to join its ranks from Southampton, Solent, Winchester, Bournemouth, Portsmouth, Sussex, Brighton, Eastbourne, and Chichester universities. Those who join will find themselves being developed mentally and physically by the training provided, and they will be prepared for joining any career, whether it is in the military or in wider industry.
The qualities taught at SUOTC are invaluable. As there is a huge emphasis on leadership, the military and adventurous training will benefit those who one day hope to become a manager in any organisation.
When I looked to study at university, one of my requirements was a reputable UOTC. I had spent time in the Cadets at school, and I knew that the chance to get paid to do what I already enjoyed doing was an opportunity not to be missed. When I first got to Southampton University, I applied to join the UOTC, and after a quick selection process I found myself in uniform and at training within a few weeks. I was concerned that studying Engineering may demand all my time, however the training plan revolves around student life, therefore it is easy to balance studies with training.
The training offered is aimed at teaching the basic skills of the British Army, and then further training towards becoming an Army Officer. There is no requirement to know anything about the Army before joining as everyone starts at the same level. There is also no requirement to join the Army on completion of your training, you can just simply take the leadership and management skills you have learnt and apply them to your new profession.
During my time at SUOTC I have trained across the country partaking in a huge variety of exciting challenges. I have trained with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers in their armoured vehicles and I have even been coached by the SAS.
As a keen sailor before getting to university, joining the OTC offered me a chance to get paid to do something I loved, as well as progress myself through doing RYA qualifications. I also get to race and have competed at an international level representing the Army, as a result have been offered spaces on professional civilian sailing teams.
One of the highlights of the sailing calendar in the UK is a regatta called Cowes Week. I have always wanted to compete at Cowes so I organised for two teams of officer cadets to take part in the regatta, all while getting paid! We sailed under the Under 25 scheme, and so we not only got to race for free, but also got provided with £300 worth of free clothing by the event sponsor. The racing is highly competitive and the amount learnt by all is huge, especially those who had never sailed before!
After the end of my first year, I started racing with the Army Offshore Racing Team aboard British Soldier, a J111 based in Gosport. The team comprises of Regular and Reserve soldiers and officers from across the country and we against international competition. I have completed races on the south coast, across the channel to France, around Britain and Ireland, across to the Netherlands and all around the West Coast to Scotland. The racing is all supported by SUOTC, and for the most part is also paid! I have moved up to being a skipper on the boat and for the first time last year skippered the boat myself in a regatta.
This Christmas I was also fortunate enough to be chosen to take part in the world renowned Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. This expedition involved spending four and a half weeks in Australia, delivering a 72 foot yacht called “Discoverer” from Perth to Sydney. Racing then commenced on Boxing day in the centre of Sydney Harbour. The race was tough and we sailed over 600 miles in four days to get to Tasmania just in time for New Years Eve. After some very tough sailing, we were able to enjoy the Christmas festivities in the baking Australian summer as well as explore some of the local sights.
When I am not racing I have also been fortunate to take part in other sailing expeditions, which have taken me to Germany, Denmark and of course the south coast of the UK. These expeditions are open to everyone and have been a great way for me to build up contacts within the Army, as well as increasing my sailing experience. As a result of all my experience I have been able to qualify as a Yachtmaster Offshore, having only been a competent crew member prior to SUOTC.
The qualities taught at SUOTC are invaluable. As there is a huge emphasis on leadership, the military and adventurous training will benefit those who one day hope to become a manager in any organisation. As a result of my training I was able to pass Army Officer Selection Board and was paid a bursary to attend my last years at university. I will be completing Regular Officer Training at the world renowned Royal Military Academy Sandhurst on completion of my degree and SUOTC will almost certainly have been the best way for me to experience the Army before joining, as well as preparing me for the training I will receive.