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UNIVERSITY OF ULSTER

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From the SWOT analysis, the recommendations flow naturally, and it is hoped that the report is shared with all stakeholders in University Sport to reveal

    UU Review of Student Sport - August 2005

UNIVERSITY OF ULSTER

REVIEW OF STUDENT SPORT

    AUGUST 2005

    Prepared by

    Montgomery Leisure Services Ltd

    Montgomery Leisure Services Ltd 1

    UU Review of Student Sport - August 2005

    CONTENT LIST

1. Introduction and Context

2. The Brief

3. Methodology

4. Review Findings SWOT Analysis

5. Recommendations

6. Appendices

    Literature and Documentation Review

    Consultation List

    University of Warwick Sports Membership Literature

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    UU Review of Student Sport - August 2005

1 INTRODUCTION and CONTEXT

The University of Ulster (UU), having commissioned MLS to undertake a Review of Student Sport

    completed in October 2002, subsequently developed a Green Paper for Sport (Genesis 2004) and

    began to implement a coherent and integrated Strategic Plan for Sport. This has culminated in the

    recent development of an over-arching University Sports Academy bringing together the expertise

    and resource of the academic departments, the Sport and Recreation Services (S&RS), the Sports

    Institute Northern Ireland (SINI), and the newly established Sports Union.

Sport at UU is clearly now part of the University's corporate thinking which is displaying a renewed

    confidence in and commitment to sport as an integral element of its academic, competitive and

    recreational offer for its students and for its wider community.

The key drivers behind this initiative include the Pro-Vice Chancellor for Student Support Services,

    the recently appointed Head of Sport and Recreation Services (supported by Phil Carson and

    service team), the newly constituted Sports Union (2004) and Sports President, and last but not

    least, the progress and agreement reached by UU with Sports Council Northern Ireland (SCNI),

    regarding the operation of SINI.

Subsequently, in April/May 2005, MLS was invited to return and undertake a second short review

    of the strategic progress made to date by partners with a particular focus on student sport and the

    Sports Union. The Sports Union is completing its first year of operation and its performance is

    seen as integral to the successful implementation of UU's Strategic Plan for Sport.

2 THE BRIEF

Against a context of major developments and advancements in sport at the University of Ulster, the

    S&RS believe the need for maintaining progress towards stated objectives is paramount. However,

    within the drive for progress it is essential to maintain partner buy-in and to realise the limitations of partners, address the issues, generate solutions and continue to grasp the moment for sport.

When embarking on the re-structuring and modernisation of UU sport, it was always envisaged

    that the biggest challenge would be experienced by Student Sport and the development of the

    activities of its sports clubs. A point acknowledged by the incumbent officers and managers, and

    predecessors, of the Students Union, who were party to commissioning the Review of Student

    Sport some four years ago.

The University, having adopted MLS's report of 2002 decided to continue supporting the concept of

    student self-determination in sport as a positive element of student life at UU. It has encouraged

    the S&RS to build its dialogue and be party to the Students Union restructuring of sport with the

    formation of a Sports Union. All key recommendations made in 2002.

The focus therefore of this review was to establish the extent to which the changes proposed over

    the last few years have reached their objectives for student sport through:-

    ? recognising the achievements;

    ? identifying the issues and problems that remain with specific regard to the Sports Union's

    including:

    - Objectives and attainment

    - Performance and delivery

    - Resources, staffing and responsibilities

    - Reporting infrastructures and interaction with University partners

    - The role of the Sports Union President

    - Health and Safety

    ? identifying future strategic directions and key recommendations for Student Sport so that

    the Sports Union's agreed objectives for sport can be realised.

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    UU Review of Student Sport - August 2005

3 METHODOLOGY

UU in appointing MLS and securing the services of Yuri Matischen (Managing Director), who was

    lead consultant on a range of sport-based consultancies at the University over the past four years,

    have had the advantage of a degree of continuity, background to structures, geography, personnel,

    and perspective for the review.

It was therefore possible for the review process to be undertaken over a concentrated period of

    time and prior to the imminent departure of students from campus for study leave in the build up to

    the examination period.

The process therefore involved:-

    ? Briefing and Planning Meetings by teleconferencing with S&RS involving the Head of

    Service and Lead Manager Philip Carson, ahead of arriving on campus.

    ? Review of strategic literature and documentation produced on UU sport (See Appendices)

    ? Two full and intense days of consultation across three of the four UU campuses, excluding

    the Belfast campus. The full list of consultees is provided in the Appendices of this report.

    ? A written report by the consultants submitted to the Head of Service for S&RS

The consultation took the form of :-

    ? personal interviews with key players in student sport across the University focusing on the

    Sports and Students Union and their partner interfaces;

    ? group discussions with student club representatives (student, staff, and former students);

    ? Student Site Committees which now form part of the Sports Union new structures as

    detailed in the Sports Union Constitution.

As broad a cross section of the student club representatives across three campuses were targeted.

    In total, the consultation process resulted in an intense but fruitful dialogue with 32 student and

    staff contributors, whose input is directly reflected in the findings and subsequent

    recommendations of this review.

The consultants wish to thank S&RS (particularly Philip Carson) for co-ordinating the meetings,

    members of the Sports Union and Students Union for their flexibility and support in generating such

    a response in such a short time frame.

In terms of reporting the findings of this review, the brief was an open one but did not necessarily

    involve a return to UU to present the findings. Consequently, in order to reflect the input of the

    consultees in the process, which was substantive and of importance for all stakeholders to hear,

    the report has created a simple SWOT Analysis followed by a number of key recommendations.

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    UU Review of Student Sport - August 2005

4 REVIEW FINDINGS

As mentioned in the methodology, MLS have summarised the rich and informed responses of the

    consultees into a SWOT Analysis to provide the recipients of this report an insight into their

    perceived and actual progress, made by those involved with playing and administering student

    sport at UU.

From the SWOT analysis, the recommendations flow naturally, and it is hoped that the report is

    shared with all stakeholders in University Sport to reveal the significant progress made by UU in

    terms of becoming a significant player in the sports sector within Northern Ireland and the UK.

The SWOT Analysis does focus on the "Weaknesses" aspect due to the nature of the consultation

    emphasising on what needs to be done to improve student sport at UU, and therefore should not

    be interpreted as a "failing" strategy and one with limited "opportunity". Indeed, in the context of

    what has been achieved and the "Strengths" identified, UU is clearly becoming a major force for

    sport within Northern Ireland and beyond.

Similarly, whilst the review focuses on student sport and student sporting structures, there are

    several implications and issues which relate to S&RS and the University, and their activities.

4.1 SWOT Analysis

Strengths - The Progress Made Since the Initial Review in 2002

    ? Sport is clearly part of UU strategy and on the policy agenda and seen as a USP

    ? UU key officers, including the VC, buy-in to the importance of sport to the UU offer

    ? SINI is now an established partner on campus and facility developments to follow

    ? An over-arching Strategy for Sport has been established and accepted by UU

    ? Strong credible and pro-active sports leadership amongst stakeholders

    ? Sports Academics engaged in University Sport strategy

    ? The University Sports Academy Framework established and will lead to more strategic

    outcomes for UU sport and a force for sport within Northern Ireland

    ? Sports Union Working Group worked very well

    ? Sports Union established with its own constitution, membership and operational framework

    still within the Students Union movement

    ? Sports Union President established with clear role for sport

    ? Sports Development Officer for student sport established and funded by UU and having

    impact at a strategic level and at UUJ

    ? Sports Site Committees at UUC and UUM worked very well, less effective at UUJ

    ? Sports Union Training Seminars for clubs worked very well

    ? Sports Union in UUJ located in high visibility location within Students Union with resource

    centre, adding value, status and growing identity

    ? Sports Union Membership introduced

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    UU Review of Student Sport - August 2005

    ? Sports Union Health and Safety "procedures" for sports club activities are independently

    rated as good

    ? Nucleus of a Sports Development Unit established with Development Officers from Youth

    Sports Trust and Rugby appointed and others to follow - of great and key strategic value

    ? UU sport beginning to attract external funding developing a critical mass of resource

? UU Sport growing as a brand identity

    ? UU developing outreach community programmes through sport involving students and staff

? Clubs such as Volleyball and Hockey at UUJ building links with schools to encourage

    participation in University clubs when choosing UU - creating "reverse pathways" and

    building feeder club loyalty!

? A number of student placements from various areas have added to the resource base of

    sport within S&RS and the Sports Union - growing the Sports Development Unit capabilities

? Development of a large equipment grant for student clubs universally welcomed

? Growing success of The Colours and a Sports Union Ball instigated

    Weaknesses - The areas that need addressing to enable continued success and growth

    Sports Union

? Sports Union lacks resources to deliver cross campus objectives as agreed within the

    University's Strategic Plan for Sport and identified as objectives in its Sports Constitution

    ? As a consequence Sports Union lacks strategic planning and necessarily focuses on day

    to-day activities - leads to frustration with S&RS and Sports Clubs alike

    ? Sports Sabbatical President realistically only able to play an effective role at UUJ with

    diminishing returns at UUC and UUM respectively, due to physical distances

    ? UUM clubs feel totally disenfranchised from the Sports Union as no real focus point for

    clubs along with poor facilities, lack of S&RS staff which means restricted access to

    facilities and poor membership. Concern for both S&RS and Sports Union.

? Participation rates amongst students generally still in long term decline.

    ? Sports President needs to show more leadership and be more pro-active within the sporting

    agenda on campus

? Sports Union needs to encourage greater interaction with former students and improve

    succession planning in clubs.

    ? Perception that Sabbaticals disappear once term ends and little happens between May and

    September.

    ? Sports President role lacks proper training programme prior to election and more stringent

    screening process prior to candidature or election.

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    UU Review of Student Sport - August 2005

    ? One year role provides lack of real contribution to strategic aspirations and development

    with no other staff fulfilling this role.

    ? Hosting of Inter-Varsity events requires better advanced notice, more strategy and structure

    in order to organise and maximise these events to get the biggest possible economic and

    other returns.

? Student participation in self-governance of clubs declining due to reverse "weekend"

    approach to the University.

    ? Better strategic fit required with Elite Athlete Entry Scheme targeting students who will play

    for their University regularly and in those sports targeted by UU's Strategy.

    ? Frequently reported by clubs and students that accessing their grants and expenses difficult

    and laborious. Whilst the Union officers and staff feel the process is generally effective.

    Requires further attention and investigation and streamlining of auditable practises.

? New clubs feel the system of proof and start-up process is discouraging rather than

    enabling.

    ? Clubs under-spending on budgets has generated a surplus for the Union, but concern as to

    why and how clubs are budgeting or not using funds remain confused.

? Difficulties increase in the period approaching financial year end when summer based

    sports find access to funding difficult.

? Club own fundraising accounts need proper controls and guidance but no resources

    available.

? Following success of Working Sub Group, the Sports Union Executive has not been

    effective and participation of student officials in the sports strategy group has been

    intermittent and breeds a lack of confidence.

    ? Within the Sports Union and S&RS there is the potential for "entrenchment" of views and

    creates some traditional polarisation, against a backdrop of energy and commitment.

    Communication and Marketing

? Communication, formal and informal, needs improving between S&RS, Sports Union and

    Students Union. Team building between all Academy partners not established.

    ? Communication and marketing still lacking by S&RS and Sports Union in the conveyance of

    key activities and messages. Need concepts "selling" rather than "telling" and treating

    students as customers and real "members". (E.g. Pool Closure, Sports Union Membership

    Fees Introduction - see attached Warwick University Literature in Appendices).

    ? UUM feel flat rate membership fees inappropriate on their campus where facilities remain

    very poor. No strategic use of membership data base for marketing and communication by

    Sports Union or by S&RS for increasing recreational opportunities.

    ? Perception that Sports Development Officer would be more grass roots involved with club

    development rather than strategic external focus. Some tension and Sports President

    should be integral to priorities.

    ? Disappointment and confusion over input and impact of Rugby Union Development Officer

    at UUC and UUM where clubs operate in spite of his presence.

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    UU Review of Student Sport - August 2005

    ? Sports Union is failing to convey impact of new developments and structure and empower

    students to take ownership of the Sports Union which can become a powerful lobby on

    campus.

? S&RS perceive Sports Union as "failing" whilst Sports Union feel S&RS becoming

    "dictatorial" and seeing the Sports Union and its budget as an "extension of its own

    activities.

? Sports Union not involved in the Talented Athlete Bursary Scheme.

    ? Sports lack of structured Sports Union PR available internally/externally whilst the Website

    needs to be established and driven as key source of information.

    ? Lack of any resource in Sports Union for Marketing or PR - certainly no allocation identified

    in the University subvention to the Union.

    Elite versus Participation

    ? Perceived focus (by students and Sports Union alike) that University authorities mainly

    interested in elite and performance sport with little emphasis on grass roots development,

    participation, and recreational sport. Hence students feel disenfranchised.

    ? Non-competitive clubs such as martial arts and hill walking feel they are not as important to

    the University.

    ? Sports Union and student clubs still not aware of benefits of SINI to their sport/club or

    sphere of operation.

    ? UUM facilities are still abjectly poor for an institution prioritising sport. Little improvement to

    existing stock adds insult to injury whilst promises over floodlighting training facilities still

    unfulfilled due to planning issues. Remains a priority!

    ? Hockey clubs have disappeared over the last few years at UUJ and there are virtually no

    Saturday student teams. Student identity only brought to life through Inter-Varsity events.

? Lack of grass root initiatives and coaching.

    Health and Safety

    ? Good procedural records maintained by the Sports Union but little interpretation, distillation

    and review of information due to lack of resource in the Students Union, or

    permanent/trained role of Health and Safety Officer.

    ? Health and Safety and Risk Assessment procedures seen as a "barrier" to participation by

    students but as a necessary evil to Students Union. No sharing of best practice by the

    Students Union with sports clubs.

    ? Transport and minibus driver restrictions is causing a negative impact on club participation.

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    UU Review of Student Sport - August 2005

    Opportunities - Tackling the problems

? Clear desire and enthusiasm from all consultees that they wish to participate in the

    University Strategy for Sport and make it succeed.

? Sport is of its time within the University (appointment of Richard Barnet as VC) and

    therefore possible to secure additional resource, new structures, and further profile sport as

    a USP for UU.

? Sport has clear and credible Champions in the shape of Dr Nigel Dobson and Prof Jim

    Allen and need to keep other stakeholders on board.

? UU and student sport could become "the" sports development hot-bed of Northern Ireland

    and create a real impact in certain sports.

? Develop a better environment and forum for S&RS and Sports Union/Students Union

    exchange and communication.

? Improve channels of communication and methods of marketing to the student body through

    the in-house University e-mail system and promotion of web sites fro information

    distribution. Opportunities for growing participation are significant if can create a linked and

    networked system and develop the right message

? Sports Union with the assistance of S&RS could create an accredited training programme

    for the Sport Union President and related officers.

? Minor capital improvements at UUM will have a disproportionate response from the

    students.

    Threats - Potential. Inhibitors of success

? Student migration continues and Return on Investment (ROI) on student sport continues to

    decline leaving the focus on elite sport and minimising the strategic value of sport to the

    University.

? Personalities, politics and entrenched opinions inhibit progress. Need progress through

    common goals and clearly defined roadmap, external brokerage and forums.

? Speed of response is perceived as too slow for University targets and ambitions.

    (It's taken 5 years at least to get SINI moving)

? Lack of additional resource and expertise within the Sports Union and Students Union

    respectively to enable the Union to play a full role within the strategic development of sport

    on campus.

    ? Elite sport and attention to "lofty ambitions" is overpowering and compelling to the cost of

    grass roots sport. Need to balance resource and structures to get the fundamentals in place.

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5 RECOMMENDATIONS

5.1 Sports Union - Continuing the Modernisation Programme

    Having completed its first year as a Sports Union, it is clear that the Sports Union has made important steps towards establishing both a strong identity and framework for the improved delivery and development of student sport.

    Where the Sports Union wants to get to is expressed in its new constitution, and these aims and objectives provide a series of challenges for the fledgling Sports Union and incumbent Sports President, who shall be in post for a critical second year.

5.2 The Sports Union and Students Union

    The Sports Union needs to consider the implementation of the following changes to better ensure it can deliver its stated objectives and play a strategic role in the development of student sport:-

     5.2.1 Leadership and Strategic Planning

    Greater leadership in driving the Sports Union's operating structures and committees, so that students and sports clubs become pro-active, understand the opportunities, and that students become empowered and active members of the Sports Union.

    This involves the President being able to step back from day-to-day activities, a reduction in cross-campus travel, and the development of a stronger Sports Union presence and identity at UUC and UUM, through other appointed representatives and/or staff.

    The Sports President needs to be pro-active in developing the relationships with sports stakeholders within UU, be prepared to represent the views of students and contribute consistently to the UU Strategy for Sport.

    5.2.2 Creating Additional Resource and Driving Student Activity

    Due to the distances involved between UU campuses, the Sports President needs to work through and manage the strategic aims of the Sports Union, with the additional support of campus based elected officers at UUM and UUC. (Could include UUB who are always omitted).

    These individuals could be the elected Site Chairmen (works well at UUC) whose roles are augmented and become key members of the Sports Union Executive.

    These positions are currently held by students who are central to the functioning of a sport on their campus and therefore it is felt that Site Chairs should be remunerated in part for their increased responsibilities and time commitment.

    It is proposed that the Site Chairman prioritise the role of basic club development and increased student participation on their campus and be a direct conduit for the Sports Union President and Sports Union objectives. Similarly, this individual would support the Sports Union Administrator particularly at UUC and UUM. It may be that UUJ is covered by the presence of the Sports Union President.

    Alternatively, the Sports Union could consider extending the hours and the role of its sports administrator at UUC with a more pro-active remit. At present, Sue Logan's role is purely administrative and reactive with no real participation in UUM clubs, the latter communicating more with UUJ.

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