In light of recent events this summer Eluceo’s VERY FIRST blog will be a two part special focusing on sport in British Universities. 

The first will investigate which universities to consider if you either want to enjoy sport in either a competitive manner or for general fitness, and what type of sport is available to you at university, while the second will investigate how research in British Universities has shaped the world of sport. Hopefully the summer has enticed you to start participating in sport, and universities are a great way to continue with sports you are familiar with or look for something new. Many Olympians have started their sporting careers at university. 

Universities compete with one another under the body British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS), the biggest sporting programme in Europe, a membership organisation of 157 universities and colleges in the UK. It coordinates competitions and leagues competitions and leagues for students attending university and in the 2009-2010 season over 4000 teams competed in 16 league sports. 

Sports for students to compete include combat sports, such as boxing, fencing, and kickboxing; individual indoor sports, such as squash, diving and gymnastics; individual outdoor sports, such as athletics, golf, clay pigeon shooting, cycling and archery; racket sports, such as badminton and tennis; indoor team sports, such as basketball, netball, and volleyball; outdoor team sports, such as cricket, football, lacrosse, hockey, rugby union, and rugby league; and watersports, such as wakeboarding, windsurfing, swimming, and sailing. Not all these sports will be available at the university you are looking to attend, so if there is a sport in particular you wish to partake in check whether the university plays it first. 

Loughborough University is consistently regarded as the best university in Britain for sport as well as sports science. Loughborough students have won the BUCS championship for over three decades, and their alumni include Lord Coe, chairman of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games and vice-president of the International Association of Athletics Federations; the current women’s marathon world record holder, Paula Radcliffe; and the England Rugby union coach Sir Clive Woodward. 

It may be possible to play sport outside the university environment, and the bigger the city the bigger chance your sport of choice will be played. Some of the facilities on offer across the country include:

Manchester - City of Manchester Stadium, the National Cycling Centre, Manchester National Squash Centre, Manchester Regional Arena, Manchester Tennis and Football Centre, English Institute of Sport, and Manchester Aquatics Centre. 

Sheffield - Don Valley Stadium, Ponds Forge, Sheffield Arena, Sheffield Ski Village, English Institute of Sport, iceSheffield.

Cardiff - Cardiff International Sports Stadium, Cardiff International Sports Village, Cardiff International Pool, Millennium Stadium, National Indoor Athletics Centre, Sport Wales National Centre. 

Glasgow - Kelvin Hall International Sports Arena, Scotstoun Stadium (and more with the 2014 Commonwealth Games). 

London - there are too many to mention!

 The top twenty universities for competitive sport after the end of the 2010-2011 season are:

1. Loughborough University 11. University of Bristol
2. Durham University 12. Oxford University
3. University of Birmingham 13. Cardiff Metropolitan University
4. University of Bath 14. University of Cambridge
5. Leeds Metropolitan University (Carnegie) 15. University of Leeds
6. University of Edinburgh 16. University of Southampton
7. University of Exeter 17. Cardiff University
8. University of Manchester 18. Imperial College London
9. University of Nottingham 19. Northumbria University
10. Newcastle University 20. University of Warwick

Within universities, there might also be scholarships and bursaries available for elite athletes who play competitive sports.

Most Olympic athletes trained while they were studying at undergraduate level. Some examples of individual sporting achievements and their universities:

  • Cyclist Sir Chris Hoy, Britain’s most successful Olympian studied at the University of Edinburgh
  • Olympic pin-up, cyclist Victoria Pendleton studied at the Northumbria University
  • Olympic golden-girl, heptathlete Jessica Ennis studied at the University of Sheffield
  • Both currently studying for PhDs(!!), double sculls rowers Katherine Grainger (University of Edinburgh & King’s College London) and Anna Watkins (University of Cambridge & University of Reading).
  • The Brownlee twins, who achieved gold and bronze in the triathlon, Alistair and Jonathan, both studied at the University of Leeds.

(This part of the blog would have been a lot better with photos, by I can't work out how to add them!)

However, you may want to play competitive sport, and just want to use sporting facilities for fun, such as attend the gym or classes. If this is the case, the top universities for facilities (looking at indoor sports facilities, winter pitches, outdoor courts and classes) are (in alphabetical order):

For more information see: