Welcome to the website of the University of St Andrews Union Debating Society: the oldest – and some might say the finest – of its kind, founded in 1794.
The University of St. Andrews Union Debating Society (UDS) can trace its origins to the formation of a literary society in 1794. Literary Societies were formed during the Enlightenment which was sweeping Europe in the 18th century. In 1890 the Literary Society merged with the Classical Society to form the Union Debating Society. The continuous operation of a student-led society of letters means that the UDS is the oldest of its kind anywhere in the world.
Overtime, the society has grown to be at the forefront of St Andrews life and has produced scores of leading figures in public life in the United Kingdom and across the globe. Despite its age and venerable standing, the Union Debating Society prides itself on allowing students to voice their opinions freely and to listen to debates without any financial stipulation. Therefore, all matriculated students at the University of St. Andrews are automatically made a member of the society and can attend public debates free of charge.
Our competitive debating wing continues to grow in its successes. Teams from St. Andrews compete across the United Kingdom, Europe, and the world. The UDS training programmes in St. Andrews extends not only to University of St Andrews students, but also to local school children from St. Leonard’s and Madras Colleges, all of which allow students to hone their public speaking and debating skills, beginner or otherwise.
Public debates remain the bedrock of the society, allowing all students to attend debates in order to listen to the arguments of the day and, if they choose to do so, engage with them. The weekly public debates are held in the historic Lower Parliament Hall.