University Officer Training Corps
The best days of our lives
The University OTCs are descendants of the Volunteer units established during the Napoleonic era as a home defence force auxiliary to the Militia and Yeomanry. This is at least the case for TUOTC (Tayforth), CEUOTC (Edinburgh), OUOTC (Oxford) and CUOTC (Cambridge).
Often referred to as OTC. Sometimes referred to as a "drinking club with a rifle problem", this is only half a joke.
In their current incarnation the OTCs' mission is centred around the idea of indoctrinating an understanding of, and empathy with, the Army by those (undergraduates) who are destined to be our nations future leaders in industry, education and politics. It is a reflection of the superlative way in which the British Army has adopted and accepted mission command that this mission statement remains to be trotted out by straight faced COs UOTC and funded by those faceless bureaucrats who find themselves unable to meet the on going cost of recruitment, retention, equipment (maintenance or procurement), pension or housing for the wider forces.
Whilst (just possibly) the UOTCs' Mission Statement might have reflected a reality in the immediate aftermath of the end of National Service, when Universities were stocked with the intellectual powerhouses who would indeed go on to run ICI, or hold chairs in Physics at sensible tertiary educational establishments, the present government's attitude to further education has altered the equation. Question 2 (and remember folks, the estimate is an ongoing re-iterative process which ought to be constantly re-appraised): Has the situation changed? Hmm. Well, if 50% of the population are now going on to read for a degree in macrame weaving and Andean archaeological nose flute playing then that means that the mean average intellectual level in the country's universities is the 75th percentile of the population. To put this intellectual level into perspective, we must return to the school room and the normal distribution: the 75th percentile is a good C grade at GCSE (in 5 or 6 subjects) and a E/D grade pass at A-Level (in two or three). If these are the future leaders of our nation them I'm going to be voting for Bliar and TCH...
The members of the UOTCs console themselves, and their egos, with the old lie, "That said, most if not all UOTCs have some sort of selection procedure and only take achievers who are reading for degrees at or near the Russel Group universities. This tends to weed out the underwater macrame people and vegetarians." Note [3.]
The UOTCs as Training Establishments
In reality the UOTCs are a glorified version of the Public School's Combined Cadet Force (this is actually, as well as figuratively, the case, since the CCF is simply a renaming of the Junior Division of the Officers Training Corps which preceded it. Many 'better' schools maintain the tradition of referring to the dressing up of 14 year olds in ill-fitting second-hand lightweight trousers, OG NBC smocks and 38 patt webbing as 'Corps' rather than CCF). [See Note 1] The most significant difference is that the UOTCs actively encourage their charges in the consumption of alcohol; the most disturbing is the availability of automatic weapons to those undergraduates who are incapable of finding anything better to do. Oh and, whilst public school boys might well find out practically (rather than in their Latin class) what makes a good catamite and those in girls' schools escape, what goes around comes around; the girly girls will certainly be getting the good news from the previously happily married PSI about six months into his tour...
The UOTCs in current existence
- Aberdeen UOTC
- Birmingham UOTC
- Bristol UOTC
- Cambridge UOTC
- East Midlands UOTC
- Edinburgh UOTC
- Exeter UOTC
- Glasgow and Strathclyde UOTC
- Leeds UOTC
- Liverpool UOTC
- University of London OTC
- Manchester UOTC
- Northumbrian UOTC
- Oxford UOTC
- Queen's UOTC
- Sheffield UOTC
- Southampton UOTC
- Tayforth UOTC
- Wales UOTC
- The odd (usually very odd) late ACF cadet manages to find their way into the messes of the UOTCs. This usually reflects the recruitment needs of:
- The UOTCs associated with the better Universities to find people who can drive stores around when everyone else is either in lectures or asleep, or
- The fact that there are UOTCs (EMUOTC for example) who are so geographically placed as to be forced into recruiting 'students' (as opposed to 'undergraduates') from 'educational establishments' which make Keele look like Cambridge and which themselves recruit their undergraduate bodies from the Comprehensive School sector.
- There is a rule that every OTC must contain a ginger-haired 3rd year student who is retaking a major part of his degree and hangs around the TAC smoking roll-ups and pretending to be a 'squaddie', driving stuff about and helping out in the stores. Although his name is actually Tarquin Featherstonhaugh-Ponsonby, he asks everyone to call him 'Tone' (which nobody ever does)
- Every OTC also has a Major who is a perpetual student doing 'some sort of Post-Doc research' who has been in the OTC for so long that he has got every AT qualification the army offers and supports his meagre funding by spending a goodly chunk of the year leading army AT expeditions around the world.
- Their argument would be taken more seriously (not, you notice, seriously) if they could spell "Russell" correctly. In fact, the selection procedure is cleverly designed so that everyone who turns up with sufficient arms and legs may join provided that a. They are not active members of Al Qa'eda or the Provisional IRA and b. If female, they sign a letter of consent agreeing to put out for the PSIs after two pints too many of snakebite. (see also spit-roasted)