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Our biggest achievements this year, including Varsity fundraising and student volunteering

Written by: UPSU

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We have reached the end of the academic year for many undergraduate students!


Congratulations to all those who have completed exams, handed in their coursework or finished their placement. We are so proud of you, and you should be proud of yourselves for all your hard work and achievements this year: you did it!

For those who haven’t quite finished yet, we hope you have managed to find some time to take breaks in this lovely summer weather recently, and we wish you all the best as you work towards finishing your studies. Keep going: you have got this!

Sadly, many SU activities and events have now come to an end during the summer period, including Give It A Go sessions, Jam House and nightclubs. You can find information about SU opening and closing times and support over the holidays here.

Before you disappear on your summer break or even finish uni altogether, we want to take a moment to reflect back on this academic year, showcasing some of our most memorable times, including our favourite nights and entertainment highlights, as well as our defining moments and biggest achievements; none of which would have been possible without you.

Thank you for being a part of our wonderful student community.


Our biggest achievements


winning varsity 2023

Team Plymouth retained the Varsity title this year, beating Marjon 25-21!

The annual sporting event between the University of Plymouth and Marjon took place across March 2023 with a total of 23 matches from 13 different disciplines.

Varsity originated as a challenge between the Men's Rugby teams to raise money for charity. Varsity itself is steeped in history with years of competitions taking place. Over the years, the competition has grown into a multiple-discipline sports competition, giving over 500 students the opportunity to showcase their skills in the sport they love.


Varsity returned for another year, and what an incredible event it was. It was down to the wire with the result being decided in the final fixture of the competition, but we remained victorious and brought the Trophy back where it belongs for yet another year. I am extremely proud of all the Teams that took part, they have really outdone themselves with many going into fixtures as underdogs but leaving as champions, the tenacity and desire that was on display is truly what our clubs are about.

They played with a hunger and desire to win. -- Mitch Laughton, VP Activities 2022/23





This year, the UoP student community has raised an incredible amount of money for a host of different charities!

This includes funds raised through Raise and Give (the main student fundraising group on campus) as well individual student group fundraising activities.  

Each year, Varsity raises a significant amount for charity through contributions from ticket sales as well as donations. This year's chosen charities were Breast Cancer UK and The British Heart Foundation. This year Varsity 2023 raised an incredible £11022.30!

A huge thank you to every staff member and student who attended a Varsity fixture back in March and contributed to the fundraising! This is an incredible achievement that wouldn't be possible without you and your support!


    Photo: Varsity 2023 fundraising grand total 


Student participation in Give It A Go


This year, Give It A Go (GIAG) organised more sports activities than ever, and started arranging more special events like day trips, workshops and a host of other activities either in Plymouth or its surrounding areas. We have seen a huge increase in student participation and we have loved seeing new friendships and hobbies formed! Find out more about the Give It A Go programme here.


Student volunteering


We have seen an increase in the number of University of Plymouth students taking an interest in, and getting involved with volunteering opportunities. This ranges from long-term volunteering commitments to one-off trips.

Volunteering enormously benefits mental and physical wellbeing. From the friends you make, the fun you have, that great feeling you get when you realise that you're making a positive difference to someone else's life. We hear time and time again from students how their volunteer work has massively enhanced their student experience and made their time in Plymouth so much more enjoyable!

We want to say a big thank you to everyone who has given back this year and been part of something bigger than themselves and made a difference to someone’s life. Find out more about volunteering whilst studying and find opportunities that suit your interests and/or careers plans here.



Student group memberships

We are always delighted by the number of student-led sports and societies that are maintained or founded each year. 

This year we have seen an increase in the number of student group memberships bought. We are so pleased more students are finding new hobbies, interests and communities whilst at University! Find out more and browse student groups here.


SU Gym refurbishment

This year, we have worked hard to provide our student community with great exercise facilities, which included refurbishing the SU Gym on campus!

We have also put in place a fantastic and very affordable summer gym memberships offer so you can maintain your physical and mental wellbeing over the summer break! Interested in joining the gym this summer or want to know more about what the gym has to offer? Click here to find out. 


Our defining moments


Student Elections 2023

In March, we announced the results for who you, the student body, elected to be the new Sabbatical Officers for 2023/24.

A huge thank you goes out to every single one of the 2465 students who voted in this year's Student Elections and of course, a huge congratulations to our new leaders; we can’t wait to see what you will achieve. Find out more about your 2023/24 Sabbatical Officers and School Representatives here.



Students’ Union Awards

The annual Students’ Union Awards exist to recognise and celebrate truly inspirational individuals and groups, highlighting the outstanding achievements of the incredible students at the University of Plymouth and to give gratitude for their hard work. As a student-led organisation, the University of Plymouth Students’ Union (SU) ask you, the students, to nominate whoever you think deserves to win an award, whether its yourself, a student group, or anyone involved in supporting student activity. 

The annual Students’ Union Awards ceremony took place in May in the Rolle Marquee. This was a prestigious evening, with the winners and those highly commended within each awards category announced, supported by the attendance of family, friends and those shortlisted.

The University of Plymouth Big Band performed as guests arrived and enjoyed welcome drinks, followed by an inspiring opening speech from your Vice President of Activities 2022/23, Mitch Laughton.


You should all be extremely proud of what you have achieved and for being nominated. You have ensured the success of the student group that you belong to. Walk away from this year with your heads held high, feeling proud. -- Mitch Laughton, VP Activities 2022/23


A huge congratulations to all the Students’ Union Awards winners, those highly commended in each category and those who were shortlisted. Please be proud of yourselves and what you have achieved!


SSTAR Awards

The SSTAR Awards are our Student Staff Teaching and Representation Awards. They are an opportunity to show your appreciation for someone at the University who has made a major difference to your time and experience this year. This could be a caring personal tutor, an engaged course representative, an inspiring lecturer or an individual who champions equality and diversity, for example.

In May we hosted the 2023 SSTAR Awards ceremony in the SU. This year we had an incredible 233 nominations, with 26 award winners and over 12 categories! Congraulations to everyone!


These awards are incredibly powerful, whether your nominee wins or not, your words can mean so much to that person. Because knowing you have made a difference for at least one person can really mean the world. --  Tonari Arikekpar, VP Education (2022-2023)


Our favourite nights and entertainment highlights


The Summer Ball 2023

This year, we sold out of our biggest and best student night of the entire year: the Summer ball 2023!

What an incredible night this was! From the amazing artists to the fantastic fairground rides, the summer sun to the buzzing atmosphere: it was everything we hoped it would be and more! Pictures coming soon!



Pride on campus

This year, Pride on Campus saw a student-led pride parade, as well as a range of LGBT+ stalls, entertainment and performances from UoP student groups in the SU! We also hosted Chaos Corner: A Queer Collective drag show in the SU, followed by Hullabaloo: a Pride on Campus special. This was a fantastic day and we loved seeing the student community come together to celebrate pride!

Student groups: 

LGBT+: LGBT+ is Plymouth University’s society dedicated to not only supporting and representing students who are part of the LGBT+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and all other sexualities & gender identities) community, but to empower them to be themselves, and to be proud.

Transgender and Non-Binary Support Group (TANBS): TANBS aim to provide a safe and comfortable space for transgender, nonbinary, and gender questioning students, as well as allies to the community, to meet and connect.


Jam House: Battle of the Bands

We absolutely love our weekly Jam House Thursdays, often hosting incredible local talent, including from our very own student community! Jam House: battle of the bands, took place in April. It was a special evening hosting bands who battled it out for the chance to win a spot in this year's Summer Ball! It was an amazing night and a big congratulations to JOYRIDE who won! Follow the offical Jam House Instagram page to keep up to date with all things jammy: @upsu.jamhouse


St Patrick's Day

We celebrated St Patrick's Day in the SU and what an amazing celebration it was! We loved seeing you, the student community, embrace this holiday and the Irish culture! A shoutout to our bands on the day, who kept the Irish spirit on a high and got you lot dancing on a Friday afternoon! 


Our annual Ciderfest

In April, we hosted our annual student Ciderfest in the SU! We had over twenty different ciders on our menu. From fruity to fiery, smooth to sparkling, there was something for everyone! Not to mention delicious pasties! There was live music all afternoon, including our very own, and highly requested, University of Plymouth Big Band!


Rum and Reggae festival

In January, we hosted the biggest Rum and Reggae Festival in Plymouth in the SU! We had a choice of around 40 different rums (including 0.0% options), delicious themed food from your SU kitchen and live music all day! We absolutely loved this event and we can’t wait to do it again!