SUSCDF is believed to have started in 1970 at Stirling University; it was first held in a hall behind the McRobert Theatre. The format was simply an evening dance with each university doing a demonstration. The Universities involved were Edinburgh, Glasgow, Stirling, St. Andrews, Dundee and Aberdeen.

On Saturday 22nd November 1986 the festival was held in Edinburgh. On that occasion the festival commenced with a reception in the Teviot Row Students’ Union at 2p.m., followed by a workshop from 2.30-4p.m. and another 4.30-6p.m., then the dance at 7.30p.m. The workshops were in Beginners country, Intermediate/Advanced country, Beginners highland and more advanced highland, and the cost was £5.50 for the whole day

The next festival was held in Aberdeen on Saturday 14th November 1987.

SUSCDF first went outside Scotland to Newcastle in 1989; since then Newcastle University SCDS retained “honorary Scottish” status, hosting the event on a number of subsequent occasions, including a combined celebration of 50 years of NUSCDS in 1999 held in Durham (Newcastle University originally being Kings College Durham until 1963).

The format of SUSCDF currently is the same the original format, being an evening dance with each university doing a display demonstration of Scottish dancing; though the choreography and music have become more adventurous over recent years.