Student Life in Days Gone By

Student Life in Days Gone By

Date: 24/09/2015 16:44
We are currently in the middle of Student Freshers’ Week. Students travel from all over the world to study at Queen's University Belfast, or the University of Ulster’s Jordanstown and Coleraine campuses. 

Highlight of Freshers' Week is Rag Day, with fundraising activities carried out by students - many backronyms have been invented for RAG from 'Raise and Give' to 'Raise a Grand'. Various events, ranging from sponsored challenges such as sky dives and running events, to pub crawls and city parades are carried out by the student body. 

However, such student organised events are not a new phenomenon. They’ve existed for as long as universities have. As long as there are students, there will be student culture. And as long as there are cameras, there will be footage of such events. Northern Ireland Screen’s Digital Film Archive is brimming with such content.

Take, for example, Northern Ireland Tourist Board film of the 1958 Queen’s University Rag Day, shot outside the City Hall, as a parade of student built floats - exhibiting an eclectic mix of music, theatre, and other performing arts - wheel past, the students onboard sporting an array of fancy dress costumes. The vibrant colour of the footage does an excellent job in highlighting the exuberant content. Unfortunately, hHowever, good taste is not always in evidence. One particular float exhibits what is perhaps an effigy of Ruth Ellis, the last woman executed in the UK in 1955.

Of course, we shouldn’t ignore the everyday. No doubt, Freshers’ Week and Rag Day are highlights of the student experience, but the university campuses can have a special, more relaxed buzz on any given day of term. Here is some beautiful footage from Super 8 Stories showing the Belfast University area in the 1950s. Included are interviews with students who studied there at the time, giving us an insight into their experience of university life. Have times changed considerably for students? Have a look, find out!

Of course, when all the fun (and hard work, of course) comes to an end, a student (hopefully) graduates with a qualification of some description. It’s a very proud day for both the student and - perhaps more so - their parents. Throughout the years, friends and family and, of course, the students themselves have wanted to remember that graduation day, a special day hich brings out the amateur filmmaker in us all.