More than 102,000 students have tried sport in the past year thanks to Sport England’s Active Universities programme, surpassing its initial target by more than 20,000.
The Active Universities programme targets broader participation in university sports, encouraging students to develop a sporting a habit for life, rather than the traditional team and performance improvements.
These results, together with the results of the HE Sport Survey which measures sports participation at a university level, help show the impact the Active Universities investment is having on university sport, with the survey found the number of students not playing any sport had fallen, with 57 per cent of students at universities with Active Universities funded projects now playing sport at least once a week.
The clearest indications of the impact of the programme has had on higher education student sport have been shown in female and disabled students taking part. The results from the HE Sport Survey show that 53 per cent of female students are now playing sport at least once a week, which has increased by two per cent in one year, and nearly half of all disabled students are now playing sport weekly – a rise of three per cent on last year’s results.
There has also been an increase in those playing sport more than once a week. This shows a serious commitment to a sporting lifestyle given the increasing demands on a student’s time and is testament to the individual projects on offer.
This success can be partially attributed to new, focused sport sessions at times which suit students. At Essex University they developed “Take Part Tuesdays”, inviting students to come down to the Sport Centre in the evening to try some new sports or rekindle a love for a sport they played at school.
In addition, sessions focused on particular sports, including “Frisbee Fridays”, have attracted beginners looking to try something different, while sports such as paddle boarding and wheelchair basketball - making their first appearance in the programme - have proved popular, indicating an appetite for new sports. While at Derby University they has success with their subsidised ‘Learn to Row’ programme showing that by making sports that seem intimidating more accessible it’s a great way to get people involved.
One-off events have also proven successful, particularly when they are different from the normal sporting offer. Innovative events such as tournaments in Racketlon, where players compete in table tennis, badminton, squash and tennis all in one event, and glow-in-the-dark badminton, marketed to students as ‘Raveminton’, have led more students to take part in regular sessions outside the events.
Active Universities has shown that there is a demand from students for easy, casual sporting opportunities to take part in. Find out more about the Active Universities programme and the results of the HE Sport Survey.