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Universities and colleges open doors to sport

Universities UK and Sport England joint press release, March 23, 2004:

Universities' extensive contribution to the nation's sporting agenda is illustrated in two new publications, launched at a House of Commons reception on Tuesday, March 23, 2004. 

The reports, 'Higher Education and Sport in England' by Sport England and 'Participating and Performing' by Universities UK, show that higher education institutions (HEIs) are major investors in sport to the tune of some 73m per year in England; offer a wide range of opportunities to students, staff and their local communities; and provide top-class facilities to enable elite athletes to develop and perform at the highest levels. 

The Sport England audit found that universities and colleges in England have 41 swimming pools (three are 50m in length), 284 grass pitches for summer use, 932 winter grass pitches, 145 fitness suites, 541 hard tennis courts, 74 grass tennis courts, 125 free weight areas, 296 squash courts and 139 sports halls.
Sports facilities in English HEIs receive more than 26 million visits per year, and are available for non-students to use approximately 70% of the time. Both reports show how many universities around the country are reaching out into their communities through sport, encouraging increased participation in both sport and higher education and promoting healthy living. Examples in the 'Participating and performing' report include sports coaching and mentoring in local schools, community exercise classes
for the over 60s and cardiac rehabilitation patients.
Professor Ivor Crewe, President of Universities UK, said: "As we are now in the European Year of Education through Sport, it is timely to have these useful snapshots of the way in which sport and higher education are engaging successfully across the UK. Universities UK hopes this encourages further partnerships at national, regional and local level for the benefit of higher education, sport and the country as a whole."

David Geldart, Sport England Council Member, said: "We welcome these reports and would like to congratulate the higher education institutions on their real commitment to giving students, staff and the community access to sport.
"We are dedicated to inspiring people of all ages to start, stay and succeed in sport at every level. Sport England's vision is to increase the participation rate of sport and physical activity from 32 per cent to 70 per cent by 2020. Evidence in this report reinforces the fact that universities across England are already helping us move towards this goal."

Mr Geldart, who is a Director of PE at St Mary's Sports College in Leeds, added: "We want to work with all of these institutions to reach out to the local communities and try to increase the numbers of people who use these, often state-of-the-art, facilities."

Rt Hon Richard Caborn MP, Minister for Sport, said: "I am very pleased to see so many illustrations of the ways in which higher education institutions are working to meet the ambitious agenda for sport, and in many cases reaching out to engage in their communities through sport and to provide vital support to elite athletes."


1. The two reports were launched at a parliamentary reception on March 23, hosted by Henry Bellingham MP. Sports Minister Rt Hon Richard Caborn MP was among those speaking.

2. Sport England provides the strategic lead for sport in England and is responsible for delivering the Government's sporting objectives. Sport England has invested around 40 million towards the development of sports facilities and more than 50 million on English Institute of Sport facilities on university sites.

3. The comprehensive Sport England report 'Higher Education and Sport in England' is based on a survey of all English higher education institutions at the end of 2002. As well as data on sports provision across the HE sector, the report includes detailed case study information from eight higher education institutions. The report will be available at:
Ed ucation-Sector_full-report.pdf 

and executive summary at:
4. Universities UK's report 'Participating and performing: sport and higher education in the UK' was co-sponsored by Sport England, The British Universities Sports Association (BUSA) and UCS (University and College Sport). Information for this publication was drawn from audits of sports facilities by Sport England and sportscotland respectively, as well as case studies supplied by higher education institutions throughout the UK and gathered through the University and College Sport network. The report will be available to download free at or in advance from the Universities UK press office.

5. Universities UK is the representative body for the executive heads of all UK universities. It has 122 members and works to advance the interests of universities and to spread good practice throughout the higher education sector.
Universities UK
Vivien Paulson-Ellis, telephone 020 7419 5407 email 

Sport England
Helen Barklam, Communications Manager, telephone 020 7273 1702 or 07739 717069 email


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Last updated: 23 March 2004 10:55
Created by: Barbara Whiteman

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