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Sussex secures National Lottery funding to boost student sport

Photo courtesy of Freedom Leisure

Students at the University of Sussex will have more chances to play sport thanks to £220,000 of National Lottery funding from Sport England’s University Sport Activation Fund, announced today (Monday 23 June).

The University is one of 54 universities to benefit from nearly £10 million of funding to help get around180,000 new students playing sport.

The University is matching Sport England’s funding as part of its commitment to internationalisation and widening participation, making a total project fund of £450,000.

Sussex’s project, called Active US, is focused on encouraging and enabling inactive students to take part in at least one 30-minute period of sport or physical activity every week.

The initiative is a collaboration between the University’s sports service – Sussexsport - and the Students’ Union.

Currently 61% of University of Sussex students take part in 30 minutes of sporting activity at least once a week. The Active US project aims 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 sport during their time at university.

The project will focus on students who, according to research carried out by Sussexsport, are less likely to engage in sport, such as First-Generation Scholars, international students and postgraduates.

To target these groups, the Active US project will work closely with student residences, both on and off campus, to create more opportunities for social and informal participation in sporting activities. The project team will appoint a Residential Advisor for Sport and Activities as well as individual sports ambassadors in each school.

A number of other roles have been created to work on the project alongside existing staff in Sussexsport and the Students’ Union. These include:

  • A full-time graduate intern to work on communications and social media
  • A full-time participation co-ordinator
  • A team of sport-specific ‘student activators’

The funding will also enable the expansion of a buddy scheme that was piloted by the Students’ Union this year. The scheme pairs current Sussex students with incoming students to help them interact and communicate during the transition into university life. Nearly all – 95% - of those who have taken part in the pilot of the buddy scheme said that they would like sport and physical activity as part of the scheme. The Active US project will enable around 800 additional students to benefit from the scheme.

In addition, the University is partnering up with a number of local providers to open up activities that are not available on campus, such as:

  • Swimming - Freedom Leisure will offer swimming sessions for students for £1 at the Prince Regent pool in Brighton and Hove’s King Alfred Centre
  • Bouldering and climbing - Boulder Brighton Climbing Centre will be hosting a Sunday night session to enable students to enjoy this fast-growing activity
  • Martial arts - Kicks Martial Arts Centre will offer self-defence classes

Karen Creffield, Head of Sport, says: “We are delighted with the funding from Sport England, which will help us to support this collaborative project with the Students' Union.

“We are really grateful for the fantastic support we have received across the University in putting the project proposal together and also for the strong partnership support from Freedom Leisure and the Brighton Bouldering Centre.

“Active US is a response to student feedback and really focuses on peer-to-peer introduction to sport. The funding will help us to improve our social sport offer, develop new sporting traditions, and increase entry level opportunities for students to get involved.”

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 the University of Sussex 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.

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Posted on behalf of: Sussexsport and the Students' Union
Last updated: Monday, 23 June 2014

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