Officers' Training Corps

Officers' Training Corps
A Saladin armoured car of the Cambridge University OTC on exercise in 1974

The Officer Training Corps (OTC) is a part of the British Army which provides military leadership training to students at UK universities. The name Officer Training Corps is misleading in that its mission is not the training of commissioned officers; only a minority of OTC members go on to further train, and subsequently, commission as officers in the Regular or Territorial Army.[1] However, in recent years there has been a greater effort at OTC's to raise awareness of the career opportunities within the Regular or Territorial Army (although the mission statement (see below) has not changed). It is similar in some ways to the United States Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps; however, a fundamental difference in that ROTCs are actually Officer Training Establishments and thus have a rather different ethos and work ethic, the UK Ministry of Defence marketed the OTC as "a University/ College club with a great and varied social life" with "...some of the cheapest drink on campus.".[2]

In 2011 an MoD study recommended the downgrading of UOTCs to sub-units (commanded by a Major rather than a Lt Col) and the formation of 12 Officer Training Regiments comprising one or two OTC 'companies' and a TA Officer Training Wing. The study also concluded that UOTC OCdts should not be attested or paid in their first year.[3]



Although some UOTC can trace their origins even earlier, the modern OTC was founded during the Haldane Reforms in 1908 to remedy a critical shortage of officers during the South African War (1899–1902). Initially it had a senior division, in eight universities, and a junior division, in public schools. During the First World War, the senior OTCs became officer producing units and some 30,000 officers passed through, but after the war reverted to their basic military training role. During the 1930s they began to increase in strength and peaked in 1938 during the Munich Crisis, and in the Second World War they again became officer producing units for the army. In 1948, the senior divisions became part of the Territorial Army and women were accepted for the first time with the formation of Women's Royal Army Corps sub units (women are now fully integrated into all sections). The junior divisions, by then renamed the Junior Training Corps, became the Army Sections of the Combined Cadet Force. For the next twelve years until its abolition in 1960, the corps aim was to prepare students for National Service.

Present day

There are 19 University Officer Training Corps (UOTCs) throughout the UK, each of which serves the universities in a distinct geographic area. Those serving larger areas may have several detachments. Each UOTC is effectively an independent regiment, with its own cap badge and stable belt. Some OTC units do not provide specialised training, others are split into a number of sub-units representing different arms and services, which cadets join when they have completed their initial training. On 1 April 2005 there were 4,257 personnel in the OTC.

OTC members are classed as Officer Cadets (OCdt) and are "Group B" members of the Territorial Army (the same group as CCF(Army) and ACF officers) and from October 2009 UOTC OCdts to April 2010 they were not paid for undertaking training, since April 2010 some payment has been re-started. They are neither trained nor liable for mobilised (active) service[4] and do not receive the same annual bounty payment as members of the TA proper. OCdts can gain appointments to Junior Under Officer (JUO) and Senior Under Officer (SUO) and can also apply to the Army Officer Selection Board (AOSB) which, if they pass, leads to the opportunity to attempt the TA Commissioning Course (TACC) with the goal of a commission as a Second Lieutenant. Cadets have no obligation to join the armed forces when they leave university and can resign from the OTC at any time.

Territorial Army Sponsored Officers (TASOs) are members of Group A TA units attached to UOTCs while they study at university as such they receive the higher rates of pay and bounty of members of the mainstream TA. They wear the uniform of their parent unit while serving with a UOTC.

The officers and non-commissioned officers, who function as instructors and administrative and support staff, are a mixture of Regular Army and Territorial Army (including Non Regular Permanent Staff). These members of UOTC training staff continue to be paid.

Mission statement

The Officer Training Corps is intended to develop the leadership potential of selected university students. It aims to achieve this through enjoyable and challenging training. In providing such an experience, it hopes to communicate the values, ethos and career opportunities of the British Army.[5]


Whilst training is organised by each unit separately, there is a general syllabus that is covered by all UOTCs.

Year One

Basic military training: This year involves basic military drill, individual skills and fieldcraft in an abbreviated version of the syllabus undertaken by TA recruits. Cadets are introduced to a range of basic military techniques, including map reading, camouflage, first aid, weapons training, radio procedure and fieldcraft. Procedures such as how to establish an overnight patrol base and how to fire & manoeuvre effectively as part of a team are also covered.

Year Two

Leadership: They introduced to some aspects of minor unit leadership. This involves the planning and decision making process, giving orders, ensuring they are carried out, directing a constructive debrief after an exercise and ensuring the welfare of all those under their command.

Year Three and Beyond

Some cadets choose to attempt officer selection and gain a commission with the UOTC, others choose to spend the remainder of their time with the UOTC as cadets. Those who go on to join the regular army from UOTC undertake the same training as those with no military experience.

Individual Units

Recruits From External Website
Aberdeen UOTC Aberdeen University, Robert Gordon University and Aberdeen College [1]
Queen's UOTC Queen's University Belfast and the University of Ulster [2]
Birmingham UOTC University of Birmingham, Birmingham City University, University College Birmingham, Warwick, Aston, Coventry, Wolverhampton, Worcester, Keele, Staffordshire University and Harper Adams University College [3]
Bristol UOTC University of Bristol, University of Bath, University of the West of England and Bath Spa University [4]
Cambridge UOTC Cambridge University, The University Of East Anglia and Anglia Ruskin University [5]
City of Edinburgh UOTC University of Edinburgh, Napier University, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh College of Art, Scottish Agricultural College and Queen Margaret's University [6]
East Midlands UOTC Nottingham University, Nottingham Trent University, Northampton University, Leicester University, Derby University, De Montfort University, Loughborough University, University of Lincoln [7]
Exeter UOTC Exeter University, Plymouth University, Marjon [8]
Glasgow and Strathclyde UOTC Glasgow University, Strathclyde University, Glasgow Caledonian University, University of the West of Scotland [9]
Leeds UOTC Leeds Universities, Bradford University, Huddersfield University, York University and Hull University [10]
Liverpool UOTC University of Liverpool, Lancaster University, Liverpool John Moores University, Hope College, University of Central Lancashire, Edge Hill University College, St. Martins College, Chester College [11]
Manchester and Salford UOTC University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University, University of Salford [12]
Northumbrian UOTC Universities of Newcastle, Northumbria, Durham, Teesside and Sunderland [13]
Oxford UOTC Oxford University, Oxford Brookes University, Reading University, Royal Agricultural College Cirencester, The University of Gloucestershire and the Royal Military College Shrivenham [14]
Sheffield UOTC University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University [15]
Southampton UOTC University of Winchester, Solent University, Bournemouth University, Southampton University, Portsmouth University [16]
Tayforth UOTC St. Andrews University, Dundee University, Abertay University, Stirling University [17]

University of London Officer Training Corps

Anglia, Birkbeck, Brighton, Brunel, Bucks Chiltern, Camberwell College of Arts, (University of the Arts), Canterbury, Central School of Speech & Drama, Central St Martin's School of Art & Design (University of the Arts), Chelsea College of Art & Design (University of the Arts), City Courtauld Institute of Fine Art, East London, Essex, Goldsmith's, Greenwich, Hertfordshire, Heythrop, Imperial, Kent, King's College, Kingston, London Business School, London College of Communication (University of the Arts), London College of Fashion (University of the Arts), London Metropolitan, LSE, Luton, Middlesex, Queen Mary, Roehampton, Royal Academy of Music, Royal College of Art, Royal College of Music, Royal Holloway, Royal Veterinary College, SOAS, South Bank, St Georges, St Mary's, Surrey, Sussex, Thames Valley, UCL - Gower Street and Royal Free, Westminster [18] [19]
Wales UOTC Cardiff University, UWIC, Aberystwyth, Bangor, Swansea, University of Glamorgan, Wrexham, Chester. [20]

Inter-UOTC Competitions

The British Army run several competitions throughout the academic year where the 19 UOTCs and the 4 DTUS squadrons have a chance to compete against each other. One of these is the Queens Challenge Cup, a sports competition.[6]


In March 2008, a motion was passed during the University College London Union's Annual General Meeting to ban Armed Forces groups and societies such as the University Royal Naval Unit (URNU), Officer Training Corps (OTC) and University Air Squadron (UAS) from operating within University College London Union locations and events. This action made headlines in the British national press, partly due to an unrelated issue at the time where RAF personnel in Peterborough had been ordered not to wear uniform off-site for fear of aggression from members of the public.[7]

Through a subsequent motion passed through the Union Council the decisions made at the Annual General Meeting were ratified,[8] however the ban was subsequently overturned by a large majority in following year's AGM of 27 February 2009.[9]

This coincides with similar actions taken at the University of Cambridge, Goldsmiths College. The University of Manchester followed with a proposal to ban military recruitment which also received press attention.[10] However, this proposal failed.[10]

Bans were also put in place at the University of Stirling Students Union in 1998 but were subsequently overturned in 2010 by a very large majority at a Union General Meeting, but not before controversy with the incumbent Union President.[citation needed]

See also


  1. ^ "University Officer Training Corps About Us". Ministry of Defence. "UOTCs are military units but it is not about training students for war. Many UOTC members do go on to join the Armed Forces, both full and part time, but the majority have no further contact with the forces after they graduate." 
  2. ^ "Want to know more about UOTC?". Ministry of Defence. "The UOTC is a University/ College club with a great and varied social life. Each UOTC has its own Officers Mess, of which all Officer Cadets are members, where you can go and relax and where you’ll find some of the cheapest drink on campus. It’s a great place to unwind after an evenings training. The Officers Mess plays host to wide variety of functions from theme parties to formal dinner nights." 
  3. ^ TAQ (MoD). June 2011. 
  4. ^ "Liverpool UOTC - Frequently Asked Questions". Ministry of Defence. ". Can I get called up to go to war? NO. Plain and Simple. You are not a soldier, you are a student with an interest in the Army. If you want to go on tour, then join the Regular Army or TA." 
  5. ^ "University Officer Training Corps". MoD. 
  6. ^ "OTC Annual Report 2005-6". "For the first time this year the Queen's Challenge Cup (formerly a TA sports cup) will be awarded to the winners of an inter-UOTC sports competition" 
  7. ^ Phillips, Martin (8 March 2008). "Our heroes deserve respect". The Sun (London). 
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ a b "Student military recruitment row". BBC News. 26 April 2008. Retrieved 20 May 2010. 


  • G.J. Eltringham. Nottingham University Officers' Training Corps 1909-1964. Privately published. 1964.
  • Col. F.H.L. Errington. Inns of Court Officers Training Corps During the Great War. Naval and Military Press. New edition of 1920 edition. 2001.
  • Hew Strachan. History of the Cambridge University Officers Training Corps. Midas Books. 1976. ISBN 978-0859360593.
  • Harold C.A. Hankins. A History of the Manchester and Salford Universities Officers Training Corps 1898-2002. DP & G Military Publishers. 2002.
  • Herbert John Johnston. The Queen's University (Belfast) Contingent of the Officers Training Corps: Sixty years of the O.T.C.: diamond jubilee 1908-1968. Queen's University OTC. 1968.
  • Roger Talbot Willoughby. Military History of the University of Dublin and its Officers' Training Corps 1910-22. Medal Society of Ireland. 1989. ISBN 978-0951386903.
  • University of London. University of London Officers Training Corps, Roll of War Service 1914-1919. Privately published? 2010. ISBN 978-1177072069.

External links

  • UOTC official page on the Army website
  • ULOTC - website for the University of London Officers Training Corps
  • ULOTC archives - University of London Officers Training Corps archives
  • COMEC - Council of Military Education Committees, who liaise between universities and the British Armed Forces

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