Lottery grant to create new sporting opportunities at Plymouth University

The University is one of 54 to benefit from a total pot of £10 million funding, via Sport England’s University Sport Activation Fund, to help encourage nearly 180,000 new students to be active. 

In partnership with the University of Plymouth Students’ Union (UPSU), the University will be able to extend its sporting activities based upon the feedback from consultation with more than 2,000 students on what would encourage them to play more sport. 

The new project will provide a package of increased sporting opportunities focussed upon three key groups – first year students, female students, and students with disabilities. 

Professor Richard Stephenson, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Student Experience said: “The health and wellbeing agenda is incredibly important to the University, and this funding will enable us to take forward this exciting new project in partnership with our students and the UPSU.
“By engaging directly with different student groups, this partnership venture means we are now able to develop tailored opportunities for such groups to be active and to have fun playing sport. It demonstrates how the University and Students’ Union together are able to put the student voice at the heart of our decision-making, such that our students become partners and co-creators of their experience here.”
Sarah Bowman, President of UPSU, added: “We are excited about this significant investment which allows us to develop the range of sporting activities both on campus and within our local community. The views of students have been at the heart of the creation of this project idea; making sure that this project responds directly to student needs and continues to do so throughout. The transformational effect of engagement in fun activities such as sport cannot be underestimated and is at the heart of UPSU and the partnership with the University”

Statistics show that just over one half of higher education students take part in sport at least once a week. The funding will support projects to not only maintain this level of participation but also increase it by trialling new methods of getting students into sport and offering a wider variety of opportunities to keep them playing during their time at university. The projects will particularly concentrate on those that do not currently play, and will also help tackle the issue of many young people giving up sport in their late teens and early twenties. 

One of the defining features of the Plymouth bid is the focus upon non-traditional venues for sport, including in halls of residence, with inter-hall competitions, and in outdoor locations in the local area. 

There will be an emphasis upon small group sessions, particularly for disabled students, complete with a Health and Wellbeing referral scheme and GP engagement. There will also be partnerships with local community groups in sports such as volleyball, handball, netball, cricket, rounders and basketball.

Sport England Director of Community Sport, Mike Diaper, said: “We know universities play a vital role in maintaining and growing a student’s love of sport. They can encourage them to continue playing once they’ve left school or help those less sporty discover a new sport. By investing in Plymouth University we’re helping students develop a lifelong sporting habit while they study.”

Karen Rothery, Chief Executive of British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS), said: “Universities have really risen to the challenge to increase sport participation, firstly through Active Universities, and now through the University Sport Activation Fund. We at BUCS are delighted that our work with Sport England over the past five years has resulted in such a success story, and are confident that we will continue to enhance the student experience through sport in many creative ways throughout the life of the University Sport Activation Fund delivery.”

The latest funding for university sport builds on Sport England’s highly successful three year ‘Active Universities’ programme which delivering a 2 per cent rise in the number of students playing sport regularly at the 41 university projects we invested in.