Questions about UOTC, Sandhurst and HCav

I've been looking in to the specifics of joining the army a lot recently as I'm off to uni in October. ARRSE seems to have been the best informed place on the internet to get answers to some questions, and plenty of the threads I've read through have been super helpful. But I'm still left with a few unanswered questions.

Firstly, I've read a lot about the debate regarding UOTC vs joining the Reserves prior to RMAS, and generally the flexibility and purpose of the UOTCs brings it out on top. But I've also heard that some UOTC's like to cherry pick aspects of army life, making it both very unrepresentative and relatively useless compared to time in the Reserves. I'm planning to go to university in Cambridge so if anyone could give a representation of the quality of the UOTC in Cambridge that'd be really helpful. I've also seen people saying there could be a lot of value in joining both the UOTC AND Reserves. However, my university has a notoriously intense workload so this is seemingly impractical, and I don't even know if it's possible.

My current plan is to apply for an Enhanced Army Undergraduate Bursary when I am at university. I'm confident I'll be able to fulfil the requirements, and a Freedom of Information request showed that generally undergraduate bursaries are undersubscribed! The huge pecuniary benefits aside, are there any other benefits to a bursary? I've read on older threads about 'sponsorship' of Officer Cadets throughout Sandhurst by specific regiments, who then guarantee them a role in their regiment upon commissioning, but I don't know if this practice has now fallen out of fashion? Also, I suppose it's hard to know, but I'm also curious as to what proportion of OCdts at Sandhurst end up with a regiment that they showed a preference for? And, by which standards are OCdts determined to be better suited to/more attractive for a specific regiment? I am understanding that flexibility in this respect is necessary as there can be no guarantees, but I absolutely have my heart set on the Life Guards at the moment, but from what I've read competition for office roles with them is very tough.

This leads me on to my final group of questions, specifically about the role of officers in the Household Cavalry. It is my understanding that soldiers enlisting in the Household Cavalry spend 2 years on ceremonial duty with an early focus on riding practice. From what I've seen the same is not true for junior officers. I have read in a much older thread on ARRSE that officers spend there first two years as 2ndLts at Windsor, but HCav has since moved out of Windsor, so are the first two years now spent at Kiwi Barracks in Wiltshire? And if not practicing for ceremonial duty what do the officers do during this time? At what stage will I be able to get in to the part of my Officer career where I lead, do some real soldiering and develop a relationship with the men in my troop? Is there much of a role for officers as regards the ceremonial side of things? Whilst it's not my sole motivation for wanting to join the Life Guards, its certainly a very attractive part and I love working with horses, so I'd be disappointed if officers lacked the opportunity to engage with his side of the HCav's dual role as much as troopers. Also on here, I've read about the cost of living in London with the Household Cavalry. Whilst I've been assured that this is not something anyone on army pay should have to really worry about, I am curious as to how much time HCav officers spend in Kensington. Sorry if these questions are too niche and nobody on here has the answers, but I'm hopeful.

Apologies if this post is too lengthy, misinformed or full of questions which have been answered previously. I've done my best to avoid asking already answered questions, but really want a better understanding of what my future with the army could look like. Thanks
 
I've been looking in to the specifics of joining the army a lot recently as I'm off to uni in October. ARRSE seems to have been the best informed place on the internet to get answers to some questions, and plenty of the threads I've read through have been super helpful. But I'm still left with a few unanswered questions.

Firstly, I've read a lot about the debate regarding UOTC vs joining the Reserves prior to RMAS, and generally the flexibility and purpose of the UOTCs brings it out on top. But I've also heard that some UOTC's like to cherry pick aspects of army life, making it both very unrepresentative and relatively useless compared to time in the Reserves. I'm planning to go to university in Cambridge so if anyone could give a representation of the quality of the UOTC in Cambridge that'd be really helpful. I've also seen people saying there could be a lot of value in joining both the UOTC AND Reserves. However, my university has a notoriously intense workload so this is seemingly impractical, and I don't even know if it's possible.

My current plan is to apply for an Enhanced Army Undergraduate Bursary when I am at university. I'm confident I'll be able to fulfil the requirements, and a Freedom of Information request showed that generally undergraduate bursaries are undersubscribed! The huge pecuniary benefits aside, are there any other benefits to a bursary? I've read on older threads about 'sponsorship' of Officer Cadets throughout Sandhurst by specific regiments, who then guarantee them a role in their regiment upon commissioning, but I don't know if this practice has now fallen out of fashion? Also, I suppose it's hard to know, but I'm also curious as to what proportion of OCdts at Sandhurst end up with a regiment that they showed a preference for? And, by which standards are OCdts determined to be better suited to/more attractive for a specific regiment? I am understanding that flexibility in this respect is necessary as there can be no guarantees, but I absolutely have my heart set on the Life Guards at the moment, but from what I've read competition for office roles with them is very tough.

This leads me on to my final group of questions, specifically about the role of officers in the Household Cavalry. It is my understanding that soldiers enlisting in the Household Cavalry spend 2 years on ceremonial duty with an early focus on riding practice. From what I've seen the same is not true for junior officers. I have read in a much older thread on ARRSE that officers spend there first two years as 2ndLts at Windsor, but HCav has since moved out of Windsor, so are the first two years now spent at Kiwi Barracks in Wiltshire? And if not practicing for ceremonial duty what do the officers do during this time? At what stage will I be able to get in to the part of my Officer career where I lead, do some real soldiering and develop a relationship with the men in my troop? Is there much of a role for officers as regards the ceremonial side of things? Whilst it's not my sole motivation for wanting to join the Life Guards, its certainly a very attractive part and I love working with horses, so I'd be disappointed if officers lacked the opportunity to engage with his side of the HCav's dual role as much as troopers. Also on here, I've read about the cost of living in London with the Household Cavalry. Whilst I've been assured that this is not something anyone on army pay should have to really worry about, I am curious as to how much time HCav officers spend in Kensington. Sorry if these questions are too niche and nobody on here has the answers, but I'm hopeful.

Apologies if this post is too lengthy, misinformed or full of questions which have been answered previously. I've done my best to avoid asking already answered questions, but really want a better understanding of what my future with the army could look like. Thanks
UOTC is a sample of the highlights. It's good fun and designed to (in the most part) fit around your University commitments.
 
UOTC is a sample of the highlights. It's good fun and designed to (in the most part) fit around your University commitments.
Thanks for your reply.
Do you reckon time spent in the UOTC actually does much for training future officers, or is it just good for roping them in with the "highlights?"
 

HE117

LE
There are a lot of questions there that either have no answer, or that the answer is .. it depends!

As a general point, I would say that the UOTC is the correct direction you should take when you go to University. If you get to Cambridge, the UOTC, which is part of the Sandhurst Group, will be able to point you in the right career direction..

My advice to you regarding life after Sandhurst is that there are a load of hoops to jump before you get there, and the important thing is to focus on the ones nearer than those further away. Your aim for the next few years should be making the very most of University, and getting the best degree you can. You may not find this easy, but if this is the path you have chosen, then focus on one thing at a time. The UOTC gives you an excellent opportunity to learn and develop parallel skills that you will benefit from in later life, but in a way that should not interfere with or conflict with your academic activities. UOTC will also point you in the right direction to make best use of your abilities in passing the Commissions board and also gives you a leg up in coping with Sandhurst.

As to your choice of regiment.... You have said that you have "set your heart" on the Household Cavalry. I have no knowledge of what this is based on and what your motivation is. The Life Guards and the Blues and Royals are extremely prestigious regiments, and are the best of what they are. I would say however, that they may not be for everybody. You need to find an opportunity to discuss the life of an HC officer with one, and seek and take advice. Again, your best bet is to go through the UOTC who are well placed to help you with this. I have had many friends in the Cavalry and the Guards, and I think their overwhelming wish is to have comrade officers that are comfortable with and fit into their somewhat bizarre life styles..!

Best of Luck and have a great time!
 
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HE117

LE
You could go to Sandhurst wanting to be an Infantry Officer and end up in the RLC.

Depends how you perform at Sandhurst and if your DS like you or not.
Oi... You in the cheap seats!

You could go to Sandhurst wanting to be an RLC Officer and end up in the Infantry.

... it does happen you know!
 
Thanks for your reply.
Do you reckon time spent in the UOTC actually does much for training future officers, or is it just good for roping them in with the "highlights?"
It will help by introducing you to weapons, the orders process, army fitness tests as well as terminology. This might help in Term 1 of RMAS as you won't be starting form a blank slate - but if you learn any bad habits then you'll have to unlearn them.

UOTC is also goo for getting on visits etc to regiments.

I can't comment on the AR as I was a UOTC.
 
There are a lot of questions there that either have no answer, or that the answer is .. it depends!

As a general point, I would say that the UOTC is the correct direction you should take when you go to University. If you get to Cambridge, the UOTC, which is part of the Sandhurst Group, will be able to point you in the right career direction..

My advice to you regarding life after Sandhurst is that there are a load of hoops to jump before you get there, and the important thing is to focus on the ones nearer than those further away. Your aim for the next few years should be making the very most of University, and getting the best degree you can. You may not find this easy, but if this is the path you have chosen, then focus on one thing at a time. The UOTC gives you an excellent opportunity to learn and develop parallel skills that you will benefit from in later life, but in a way that should not interfere with or conflict with your academic activities. UOTC will also point you in the right direction to make best use of your abilities in passing the Commissions board and also gives you a leg up in coping with Sandhurst.

As to your choice of regiment.... You have said that you have "set your heart" on the Household Cavalry. I have no knowledge of what this is based on and what your motivation is. The Life Guards and the Blues and Royals are extremely prestigious regiments, and are the best of what they are. I would say however, that they may not be for everybody. You need to find an opportunity to discuss the life of an HC officer with one, and seek and take advice. Again, your best bet is to go through the UOTC who are well placed to help you with this. I have had many friends in the Cavalry and the Guards, and I think their overwhelming wish is to have comrade officers that are comfortable with and fit into their somewhat bizarre life styles..!

Best of Luck and have a great time!
Thanks so much for your response.
I think you make a particularly good point about dealing with the first and current hoops before worrying about details 4 years down the line.
I'll look in to an opportunity to visit regiments and take advice (when that becomes possible) but what do you mean by "their somewhat bizarre life styles?"
 
After a similar question earlier this year I had a poke around. It seems that small Regiments (i.e. single or two Battalion Regiments within the Combat Arms) like to know who "their" OCs are before they get to RMAS. It doesn't mean they don't take OCs from RMAS who they don't know, but the Regiments place a significant amount of effort in recruiting people into them, not the Army. Therefore I'd strongly suggest you need to get on the HCav's radar early and establish links. You may find them not to your taste: I spent some time with them in London, and whilst it was great fun to visit, I wouldn't want to be an HCav Officer (for multiple reasons).
 
After a similar question earlier this year I had a poke around. It seems that small Regiments (i.e. single or two Battalion Regiments within the Combat Arms) like to know who "their" OCs are before they get to RMAS. It doesn't mean they don't take OCs from RMAS who they don't know, but the Regiments place a significant amount of effort in recruiting people into them, not the Army. Therefore I'd strongly suggest you need to get on the HCav's radar early and establish links. You may find them not to your taste: I spent some time with them in London, and whilst it was great fun to visit, I wouldn't want to be an HCav Officer (for multiple reasons).
Very interesting. I had no clue it worked like that. Thanks.
What are some of your reasons for not wanting to be an HCav Officer? You are/were with the RAF right?
 

DSJ

LE
Thanks for your reply.
Do you reckon time spent in the UOTC actually does much for training future officers, or is it just good for roping them in with the "highlights?"

It'll give you a basic grounding and familiarity with the environment and vocabulary. Bear in mind that a sizeable chunk of an intake will start with UOTC experience. My intake consisted of military virgins as well as people with time spent in UOTC, 21/23SAS, RMR, TA Paras, Royal Engineers and Parachute Regiment Regulars, and no-one was treated any differently.

Use the OTC for the fun, the experiences, the friends you will make, and also to get as many visits as you can. You might end up either not getting a place in the HCAV or deciding to go elsewhere. Make the most of getting beer money whilst being sent on fam visits as much as you can.
 
Very interesting. I had no clue it worked like that. Thanks.
What are some of your reasons for not wanting to be an HCav Officer? You are/were with the RAF right?

Have a word. RN for a long time.

I like horizons, doing new stuff most days, and I've literally grown up in a metal box less than 150m long, where you are forced to interact with everyone, all the time.

Living in central London, doing the same thing over and over, and having your team spread over a much bigger space than I am used to are not what I want to do with my life.
 

Brotherton Lad

LE
Kit Reviewer
I'd also say UOTC rather than AR. Confirmed Cadets still exist but are outliers (typical reasons might be skills in high demand or those who need an age or education waiver). I doubt you fit any of those categories.

Regtl Selection Boards take place in Week 12 of the Intermediate term. Cadets give two choices of cap-badge. Before that, though, I'd encourage you to visit as many branches of the Army as you can whilst at uni. At RMAS you put down expressions of interest and these are slowly whittled down to just the two. Those cadets who are not accepted go into clearing, similar to UCAS.

All of this system is currently subject to Covid restrictions.
 
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The most important bit about University is to learn a bit and have some fun. That can be had in either the UOTC or the Reserves or indeed elsewhere - sports etc. The end product from RMAS is usually the same regardless of prior experience in UOTC, Reserves or upside down over a keg of beer at the rugby club!

In terms of joining the Regular Army it's important to get on as many visits to different units, HCav/ RAC, Infantry and also other Regiments or Corps that you had not considered - even to prove to yourself that you have got your heart set on a Regiment for the right reasons. I would suggest looking at the role, meet the unit's soldiers and ask yourself whether you can see yourself at home in the Officers' Mess.

HCav Officers start their career at HCR - the armoured side of HCav. They will usually serve 2 years here before moving to the HCMR - the Mounted Regiment or elsewhere. Not every officer has to go to the Mounted Regiment. HCR are just about to be the first Regiment to receive the AJAX/ARES series of armoured vehicles. They are now based at Powle Lines in Bulford.


Good luck!
 

Brotherton Lad

LE
Kit Reviewer
Just to give you a flavour. Annual through put is about 700 OCdts in 3 intakes (plus smaller shorter courses - Reserve officers, Late Entry and Professionally Qualified)..

Average proportions in recent years are:

90% male
15% international
75% graduate
60% state educated
9% from the Regular ranks
14% some Army Reserve service
25% UOTC
33% some Cadet Force experience.
 
As mentioned in several replies above, the smaller historic regiments have a type of young officer they want at any particular period who will be a good fit in their mess. This is not a fixed entity and can vary over time. The way they wittle down their list of who to take to regimental selection board is by regimental familiarisation visits by the potential officers pre RMAS and OCdts when at Sandhurst. Performance in Junior and Inters is also important in that list shortening but each regiment will looking for YOs who they think will be competent in the role and mix well with their fellow officers (and shock horror, their soldiers as well . . . . . . . . well certain regiments do anyway) and there will be a ready supply of OCdts that they have met with and sort of know in every term so getting in early with your desired regiment is important if they are over subscribed with expressions of interest.

As to love of horses, most cavalry regiments, well my son's certainly, still have an active interest in horses and encourage riding so dont just limit your sights to the HCR if riding is important to you. In Albertous Junior's regiment all YOs, when in camp, are supposed to have riding lessons on a Wednesday or Thursday afternoon during their first few months in the regiment. Albertous Junior has always found something better/more important to do, as to quote directly 'Dad they arent going to send me to war on a horse so why should I learn to ride one of those bloody animals?'. I think the adjutant has now accepted Albertous Junior will never get on a horse but it's not a problem.
 
Thanks for your reply.
Do you reckon time spent in the UOTC actually does much for training future officers, or is it just good for roping them in with the "highlights?"
There is a definite bias towards the social side . Enjoy it .
You might get some PAID sailing and ski trips , if you're lucky .
 
May be I should have posted elsewhere, but looking at the last 11 Dec pass out list published in the press a few days ago I noticed among the overseas list two from USA. I assume there is some sort of exchange scheme Sandhurst/West Point, however as there is a great deal of difference in length of courses do the UK Cadets sent to West Point do the full course there, or just the final semester/term to learn how to memorize the menu for next week, parrot fashion trivial questions and cut pie at meal times?

 

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