If you thought UniSport Australia was just about elite athletes, think again.
As new and returning students prepare to hit the books in 2020, chances are sport will play an increasing role in how they cope with the workload.
UniSport Australia’s member relationship manager, Mark Blomeley, says universities are getting serious about sport, with some even adding it to their strategic plans.
“The reason for that is obvious," Blomeley says.
"A more active student is likely to have decreased stress levels and also see their course through to the end. Obviously decreasing the dropout rate is a key factor for universities.”
And UniSport is helping move things along.
Blomeley adds: “Generally in the past the main thing we did was run competitive sport and facilitate elite level opportunities.
"But we’re also a member-based organisation and our focus is trying to assist our members (such as university sports departments) increase their impact on campus. That extends to not just sport but any physical activity as well.”
There's another positive from sport, especially for students leaving home for the first time.
“A lot of the feedback we get is about the social component,” Blomeley says. “Being able to go away with people they’ve never met before, gaining a new group of friends, that’s a huge part of social sport."
One way campuses are being transformed is through UniMoves – a pilot program involving 11 universities across Australia. In partnership with Sport Australia, UniMoves aims to help staff and students alike to fit in 30 minutes of activity each day.
“With part of the funding UniSport secured we customised apps for unis undertaking the program”, Bromeley says.
“So basically students at that university are able to download that app and start tracking their activity, join in challenges and see what healthy activities are going on at their campus so they can get involved.
“The app went live about mid-September, which is a relatively quieter time of the year, but we’ve seen some really good uptake of challenges. We hope to extend the program to other universities as it rolls out over the next couple of years.”