Better ways to spend your union membership fee

The Cambridge Union: a place where the paninis are cheap, the ceilings are high and the cost of membership could probably buy you a ranch in Ecuador.

Cambridge Debating Features Freshers money The Union

By a feat of what must be credited as the most enticing marketing strategy since Compare the Meerkat, students who feel financially compelled to decline when asked if they would like cream and marshmallows with that will happily fork out £185 to set foot in that hallowed chamber.

Freshers take heed: if you can find that kind of money to spend on a debating club, you could also be spending it on any one of the following wonderful things.

Six days in Venice

For this view who cares about Yoko Ono?

If you have a friend, a suitcase and a spare £185 kicking around, package deals offering some impossible-sounding travel opportunities are ripe for your picking. Jetting off to a four-star hotel in Venice straight after term ends is within your reach.

Like this Wowcher deal here

New Years’ Eve in Budapest

Get your yearly fix of fireworks, binge-drinking and awkward hugging somewhere more exotic

Continuing the travel theme, you could transform the most anti-climactic night of the year into an unforgettable Hungarian adventure.

First, book an Easyjet flight now when they are about £115 pounds, then reserve a room in a central hostel for about £12. There would still be £58 left from your membership fee to fritter away on rich food and fine wine.

Record an EP

Would the Beatles have prioritised union membership over a recording studio?

Instead of splashing the cash at the union, you could that spare £185 to pursue your dream of becoming a singer-songwriter by renting a modestly priced studio for a couple of hours.

Your union membership fee could be the only thing standing in the way of you and a beautiful career. One day you’re posting your EP to a local radio station, the next you’re the support act for a Justin Timberlake tribute band. Before you know it this whole a degree thing will be far behind you.

A laptop

At least you are guaranteed to make use of it more than twice a term

A quick scroll through the Curries website will reveal that you can comfortably replace your laptop for the price of access to this jumped-up debating club.

Learn a language
Instead of hearing a range of fascinating speakers in boring old English, you could open up a whole new world of potentially fascinating speakers by signing up to one of the language courses on offer here.

In ten years’ time when you have an exotic career as a travel journalist, you will be thanking your younger self for spending that money on enhancing your value as a world citizen rather than hearing that guy from ‘How I Met Your Mother’ talk about his journey.

A human life

Well, frozen sperm. If you aren’t picky about the lifespan statistics of the donor’s family, you can buy a “straw” of raw sperm from as little as $149 USD. With your £185, you could practically have the run of the online clinic, and choose seeds with a genetic disposition to any colour hair you like.

Click here for budget sperm

Two inflatable baths

College life is stressful. For the price of union membership, you could buy yourself and a stressed friend a £70 inflatable bath and enjoy relaxing evenings together for the rest of your university careers, soaking side-by-side in soapy water.

A couple of chinchillas

You could keep them in the gyp room

According to the expert at, provided you are looking for a “standard” rather than a “show quality” chinchilla, you can pick one up for around £60. For the price of your union membership, you would be able to buy two, which is good because chinchillas have been known to die if they get too lonely.

You would also be able to afford a sturdy cage, some toys and a month of food.

A Van

Escape the tyranny of Sainsbury’s and drive to the ASDA just out of town. It’s a beautiful dream.

For just under the price of union membership, you could be rolling to the Sidgewick site in this practical Ford Transit Connect 1.6TDCi.

A human zorb ball

Would you really rather listen to a debate on the economic situation of Greece?

This might be the solution to all of the work related anxiety faced by the student body. You would literally never be miserable again. What says stress relief like bumping over parker’s piece in a zorb ball?

Some rhinestone earrings owned by Stevie Nicks

You don’t have to buy membership, you can go your own way

For the low, low price of just $175 you could purchase costume jewellery which has adorned the lobes of the lead singer of Fleetwood Mac. Why go and hear celebrities speak in a room full of other gawpers when for less money you can buy something which may still be contaminated with traces of their DNA?

A week’s worth of hot tub rental

Obviously these people are not freshers, but look how happy they are

Sure, if you don’t go to a union event, you might miss one nice evening of bonding time with your new potential friends. But imagine how much more they would love you if you rented a hot tub for the duration of fresher’s week.

Your name would also go down in the history of your college as that of an ostentatious young gent with more money than sense. You would probably get interviewed by the Daily Mail.

27.6 hours of someone’s time
The UK minimum wage is £6.70 an hour – your union membership is worth over a day and a night of solid shelf-stacking.

A ticket to V festival

Who needs the union when you have rock and roll?

If you can scrape together an extra four pounds, your union membership would pay for a weekend of live music you would be boasting about all for decades to come.

An inflatable slip-and-slide shaped like a hotdog – £184.19

Of course you would get the use out of it

You would still have 81p spare if you invested your Union money on this.

And finally…

740 cans of beans from Sainsbury’s Basics range

All of the beans for your beans

So there you have it. If you have enough patience to trawl the internet you can find a better way to get rid of that burdensome money than by blowing it on joining a student society.