MUBS was originally started some years ago by Lance Cousins, who also played a leading role in the Samatha Trust and is a well known Buddhologist. MUBS organises two meetings a week. One on Monday is a practice session led by a Samatha Trust teacher; the other on a Thursday hosts a range of speakers and practitioners from different traditions. Manchester University only provides limited funds to each university society and will only fund one society per religious tradition. This may well be a common practice in higher education institutions and I guess from the perspective of a secular institution this keeps things simple. It does mean, however, that different denominations within a religious or faith tradition may need to work together and an exclusive attitude by one denomination is not appropriate. In practice, groups will only form if there is a demand from interested students, and such students will likely already follow a particular tradition.
The MUBS model is a good one; although the Samatha Trust provides meditation teaching, the society does host speakers from other backgrounds and manages a comprehensive web site which lists all other Buddhist groups in the Manchester area. I think this is a model for University Buddhist societies that the NBO would want to support as good practice.
We discussed the recent Manchester Buddhist Conference. Given that it was held in August, it had been well attended, especially by monastics and other representatives of local groups. Hopefully a conference will take place in 2007, with Venerable Piyatissa from Ketumati playing a leading role.
Both Joy and James did not expect to be able to put much energy into MUBS next year; James is undertaking practice in a hospital and Joy will have completed his doctorate. Continuity for University Societies is a well-known problem and possibly one that the NBO can help with in some way.
Many thanks to Joy, James, and MUBS for their hospitality.
The MUBS web site is: http://www.umsu.manchester.ac.uk/mubs/manchester.html