The Universities Scheme was set up by Grand Lodge (UGLE) in 2005 to raise the awareness of Freemasonry with university students and provide arrangements and opportunities for undergraduates and other University members to join and enjoy Freemasonry. As a result it is hoped to attract and retain them as members of the Craft.
Particular Lodges have been identified throughout the country in University towns and cities to provide special help and support to University applicants. In April 2013 Hartington Lodge № 1085 was accredited as the first member Lodge of the Universities Scheme in Derbyshire. The Lodge meets at Derby Masonic Hall and serves the University of Derby’s southern campus. In September 2015 Phoenix Lodge of St Ann № 1235, meeting in Buxton, became the 65th Lodge to be admitted to the scheme and Derbyshire’s second. It will serve the Buxton Campus of the University of Derby.
Hartington Lodge has been very successful and has held a number of meetings where Masonic degrees have been conferred on multiple candidates at the same time. A dispensation is often required, since many candidates for Initiation are below the age of 21 years. It is recognised that many will move away from Derbyshire when their university education is complete. Assistance is then given, when necessary, to identify Lodges in other parts of the country for the member to continue his interest and involvement with Freemasonry. Accreditation under the University Scheme brings responsibility and increased commitment from the members of the participating Lodge, but the reward for that effort is considerable.
Phoenix Lodge of St Ann is now implementing its detailed plan to make members of the University in Buxton and North Derbyshire aware of Freemasonry in the area and to attract potential candidates.
Scheme Lodges recognise that undergraduates have different needs to non-University applicants; they may only be a member of the Lodge for a relatively short time during their studies and then search for career opportunities both in the UK and abroad. At certain times they may find meetings difficult to attend.
The United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) acknowledges that there is a cost involved in being a Freemason and has made a number of concessions for applicants who are under 25 years of age.
Hartington Lodge has a sincere and dedicated team of personal mentors who work with Universities Scheme entrants to help them achieve their full potential in Freemasonry and support them with pastoral care as required. Building on its successful mentoring programme, Phoenix Lodge of St Ann has a team in place ready to advise and support students and other members of the University who wish to learn more about Freemasonry. Enquiries are positively encouraged from young men of all faiths on commencing or during their University Course.
All enquires should be addressed to Derbyshire’s Scheme Coordinator, W Bro. Steve Jones, Assistant Provincial Grand Master.
Whilst Freemasonry as practiced under the regulations of the United Grand Lodge of England is entirely for male members, Women’s Lodges also exist. Any female student interested in making contact with Women’s Freemasonry can use the same enquiry route.
For further details of the Universities Scheme, see the details on the UGLE website.