News Nov 5th 2015

5 Best Universities for Sports

Rugby in University
British students are looking for more in their universities than academic credentials. Considering the high tuition fees they pay today, they are determined to get the most out of their money. They are particularly attracted to institutions that promise a better student life, and that includes sports.

As a result, centres for higher learning in the UK are investing heavily in sports and fitness programmes to encourage the best students to enrol with them. Here are the top five UK universities that have proven they can rise to the occasion as serious promoters of collegiate sports.

1. Durham University
Durham University

Although technically garnering the second place (outperformed by Loughborough University) according to the British Universities and College Sports (BUCS) survey, Durham University is the best among institutions that do not specialize in sports. It has the largest student participation programme in the UK, with 90% of its student body actively involved in one or more of the 50 sports clubs managed by Team Durham. Among these are indoor and outdoor cricket, basketball, football, badminton, hockey, netball, squash, table tennis, tennis, rugby, and ultimate. It is the recognize centre for excellence in cricket, rowing, and fencing. It gives out Palatinates as awards to their best athletes.

Serious athletes can look to Durham University to advance their careers with its "Elite Athlete Support Program." This offers student athletes with the professional coaching they need to achieve the peak of their athletic potential. Among its sporting alumni are cricketers Andrew Strauss and Nasser Hussain.

Durham University is recognized as the best alternate institution to Cambridge and Oxford, which are conspicuously absent in this list. Interestingly, Durham holds its own in several academic disciplines as well. It ranks first for English in the 2016 Complete University Guide, and second in Chemistry, History, Archaeology, General Engineering, and Science. It also has an impressive record in foreign and language studies. Durham University proves that you can get an education and enjoy it, too.

2. University of Edinburgh
University of Edinburgh

Edinburgh was known as the "Athens of the North" back in the day, chiefly because of the graduates of the University of Edinburgh that went on to become famous intellectuals. Among these alumni are Charles Darwin, Alexander Graham Bell, James Clerk Maxwell, James Barrie, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Sir Walter Scott. Even today, it ranks in the top 10 higher learning institutions in the UK for Architecture, Chemical Engineering, and Linguistics.

However, such accolades did not stop the university from churning out modern sports figures such as track cyclist Sir Chris Hoy and rugby union footballer Simon Taylor. The Edinburgh University Sports Union currently runs 67 clubs. This includes football, rugby, rowing, and even Korfball. Athletes compete regularly in the Scottish Student Sport competitions, and have a chance to participate in the iconic and well-attended Varsity Match against the University of St. Andrews.

3. University of Bath
University of Bath

Third on our list and 4th in BUCS countdown is the University of Bath. What makes this quite impressive is that unlike Durham and Edinburgh, the sports programme of the University of Bath is relatively new. Serious sports development only began in 2003 with the opening of the Sports Training Village, which cost the £30 million to build and equip. Today, it offers professional athletic training to Olympic-level athletes as well as regional and national clubs in 10 sports. Among its famous alumni include footballer Dennis Bengkamp, rugby union footballer Steve Borthwick, and skeleton racer Amy Williams. Students wanting a good balance of academic and sports pursuits can take advantage of the Dual Career Programme. The university sporting organisation TeamBath and its members have access to the best sports facilities in the UK in the Claverton Down campus and Sports Training Village.

4. University of Birmingham

University of Birmingham

The University of Birmingham produced the likes of triathlete and Ironman Champion Chrissie Wellington and road bicycle rider Paul Manning. The institution offers 53 sports clubs to its students and professional athletes, and facilities designed to train the future Olympian. Sports excellence has been a tradition in the university for many years, but it shows no signs of resting on its laurels. Not content with its high ratings, the university is on the eve of completing its Hi Performance Centre. It offers numerous athletic scholarships to British and foreign students.

However, Birmingham University is not a sports university. It is a public research university that has made many contributions in science, commerce, and engineering. It is a founding member of the Russell Group, a group of universities that received the bulk of research grants in the U, and the first "red brick" university to get a royal charter. It is widely recognized as the best university for light engineering. In addition, it is a shining light in cancer studies

5. University of Exeter

University of Exeter

The University of Exeter makes it to the list, and not easily. Its foray into sports excellence began in earnest about a decade ago, involving heavy investments in sports and fitness facilities. It paid off. The university claims to be the best university South of England for sports, and this is borne out by the likes of alumni rugby player Richard Hill and equestrian Zara Phillips.

The Athletic Union manages the sports programme of the university, ensuring that all students have a chance to participate in one or more of the 49 sports clubs on offer. In 2014, the student body voted Exeter University as one of the top 10 UK universities for promoting student life quality.

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