Universities have faced massive funding cuts to UK sports initiatives over the past four years. Many universities have faced funding cuts throughout the year with the government’s aim focusing more on participation as oppose to competition.
Table tennis is an example of a sport which is facing funding problems at Solent University with the team struggling in the BUCS Western 1A league this year due the absence of Coach Ken MacLeod, whose expertise in table tennis will be sorely missed amongst the team members. Funding proved to be an issue which kept Ken out, with the issue proving to be a re-occurring one within university sport.
I recently caught up with Ben Carr who is playing a key role in the Solent table tennis team this year:
“This year we can’t actually afford to pay for a coach, so we are just doing everything by ourselves like drills and training.
“We usually have about 10 players available so we will fill out a team for every week, the best players that we can play we will play.”Ben Carr, Table Tennis Athelte
It is not just Solent table tennis taking a hit with other sports as well dealing with funding issues. I also spoke with Basia Dudek at Sport Solent who highlighted the difficulties of funding:
“Our overall funding for sport and all clubs BUCS and non-BUCS was cut again this year due to wider university cuts and department cuts.
“Over the summer quite a few big universities faced major cuts to their sports programme including Northumbria University who cut their sport programme significantly over the summer.”
Basia also mentioned how the governing body for university sport BUCS (British Universities and Colleges Sport) could help with the financial cost by regionalising some of the lower based leagues to cut down on travel cost.
Participation in student sport is also something which BUCS would like to improve upon with a project launched on 12th April earlier this year, with an initiative to help tackle issues with inactive female students.
The funding project became available through Sport England with the funding receiveing interest from 40 university institutions across the UK. Cassell Bailey from Sport England had this to say about the project:
“Sport England are delighted to continue our partnership with BUCS and the HE Sector through the delivery of BUCS Active projects.”
Dr Argyro Elisavet Manoli, of Loughborough University, School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences department, has expressed her dismay at the recent funding difficulties in a press release:
“In comparison to the multi-billion clubs of the Premier League, these are organisations that find themselves outside the mainstream, headline-making national sporting consciousness and, coupled with the recent, relentless drive towards austerity by the Government, their plight with regards to financing has become more pressing.”
A study conducted by Dr Manoli has made it abundantly clear that funding from the Central Government is vital for both the short and the long-term future of uniervsity sports. Participation in student sport may be on the up, but it is evident that funding cuts are having a detrimental effect on their overall health. Without further support on non-commercial sports in the UK, plenty of athletes may no longer have a platform to perform on.