University branded 'absurd' over decision to ban Army from freshers’ fair

University of Bristol Student Union

University branded 'absurd' over decision to ban Army from freshers’ fair

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Oliver Trapnell

By Oliver Trapnell

Published: 25/09/2023

- 14:34

Updated: 25/09/2023

- 15:50

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps warned the decision would ‘deprive’ students of opportunities

A leading Russell Group University has sparked major backlash after refusing Army recruiters at their Freshers’ fair.

The University of Bristol’s student union barred the Officers’ Training Corps (OTC) from setting up a stand on Friday, in a move branded “absurd” by the Defence Secretary.

The student body claimed they banned OTC from the event as it would “compete” with other “affiliated” organisations at the event.

OTC provides students with military training that fits around their degrees.

WATCH NOW: Headliners panel react to ban

“We assess requests made by unaffiliated groups on a case-by-case basis,” a student union spokesperson said.

“Considering a number of factors which have been communicated to the OTC, including that groups like the OTC offer an experience (such as making friends, developing leadership skills and adventure activities) which is very similar to, and therefore in direct competition with, our affiliated student groups.”

The decision was met with extreme backlash from the Defence Secretary who was quick to criticise the move, branding it “absurd and indefensible”.

“Reported bans on officer training corps and defence companies attending university events like freshers’ fairs or recruitment fairs are absurd and indefensible,” Grant Shapps said.


Grant Shapps

Shapps branded the move 'absurd and indefensible'


“University OTC’s provide students with a unique opportunity to gain new experiences, develop valuable skills and have amazing adventures.

“Trying to deprive students of these opportunities is wrong and anyone considering doing so should reconsider immediately.”

One defence source told the Telegraph that OTCs have been “known to be banned by student unions over the years”.

They added it was “not without precedent”.

University of Bristol

University of Bristol


A current student at the university told the publication of her disappointment over the university’s decision.

She said: “The university is supposed to help us find fulfilling and lifelong careers, but by trying to ban the OTC they’re doing the opposite of that. They’re limiting potential career paths.

“Talented individuals who may have loved a career in the Army might not have one now.”

A spokesperson for Bristol University said: “We respect our students’ right to raise concerns about issues they feel strongly about and we will continue to listen to and engage with their views.”

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