For as long as anyone here, in the Students’ Union, and Students themselves can remember it has been a high priority for the Activities Officer (currently one of mine) to do something about the dreaded Sporty Card. But I get to be the bearer of good news for all! We (the Students’ Union and the University) have developed a Working Group, with the sole purpose to try and come up with some different funding models for sporting provision that could offer less of a barrier to engaging more of our Students within sport and encourage more people to get involved.
Sport is such a fundamental part of the Aberystwyth lifestyle, and we are in the Top 5 Universities for Student Satisfaction out of the whole UK – so we must be doing something right? We have a range of over 50 clubs on offer for our students and we always support our students where we can, whether it’s from helping start a new club, to funding coaching education, to facilitating trainings, competitions and lots of other cool things, that when I was a student, had no idea was available to me!
It’s difficult at both ends, as I have learned from being in the position I am in. Yes, being a student and having to pay before I can even be allowed to pay to join a club was a bit confusing and for many of my friends was actually a real financial barrier to participating, which wasn’t fair. In an ideal world, access to sport would be free and everyone could join in if they wanted to, but seeing the situation from a different light kind of highlights how lucky we are. All the money raised from Sporty Card sales goes back into sport. It funds the payment of facility hire, insurance, affiliation and transport for BUCS, the costs of employing staff members who have the job of overseeing that everything is in working order, it goes into the money we give out for grants. How can students be expected to know that without being told about it or have it explained to them?
We have given members of our sports clubs the opportunity to have their say with 4 focus group sessions during the course of the week, where we can have discussions about the actual financial cost of sports and what we can do as alternatives to the Sporty Card. I am excited to have current students involved in helping to change the way we use a sports funding model, in an effort to develop more efficient and viable models for themselves and our future students.