Universities and absences for (inter)national sports repping

(38 Posts)
thunderbee Sun 11-Feb-18 16:37:54

Does anyone know anything about whether universities make allowances, either at application or during degree studies, for students/applicants who have to attend national training camps etc.? Are modifications allowed to elements of assessment of courses or requirement for attendance if students have to be away during term time?
DC1 is unsure whether they could aim high for Uni given the demands of their sport in terms of training camps, weekend fixtures, expectation of club as well as national team attendance. Does anyone know how Oxbridge and Russell Group deal with this? DC has done very well at GCSE; the level of demand on their time from the sport and compulsory S&C is ramping up constantly however, so not sure how well they will maintain achievement come AS and next year A level. Would this be taken into account at all at application stage?
Any admissions tutors or lecturers on here who could share their knowledge?

OP’s posts: |
TheRagingGirl Sun 11-Feb-18 17:17:10

A full-time university student is assumed to be available full-time for their studies 8:30am to 630 pm Monday to Friday at my institution. They’re full-time.

We wouldn’t see that sort of thing as a good reason not to be present for all the weeks of each teaching term. Sport, paid Work, etc not a reason: you’re at university to be at university, not to fill in time while you’re doing something else.

If he’s interested in making his sport his career then maybe he needs to be looking at sports science degrees where participation at an elite level could be accommodated as part of his course.

But otherwise, no. You’re at university to study. Presence in seminars, lectures, tutorials and for collaborative learning and research is important. More important than a hobby.

marine04 Sun 11-Feb-18 17:48:48

Talk to Loughborough University

AConvivialHost Sun 11-Feb-18 18:03:25

I work at a Russell Group university and we have an Elite Athlete scheme, whereby students receive special dispensation to attend training/competitions if they are nationally ranked. We would not change assessment, however.

Daisymay2 Sun 11-Feb-18 18:15:05

Also try Nottingham.

thunderbee Sun 11-Feb-18 20:17:04

Thank you AConvivialHost and DaisyMay2, very helpful to know that dispensation for attendance away could be available at RGs, and understandable that assessments would stay the same. Thanks v. much for the suggestions of Loughborough and Nottingham - that's really helpful and something to follow up. Basically this is a DC that's intellectually capable of excellent performance and had the best GCSE performance in the school this summer including full marks in a couple of subjects, but is part of a set up that demands a great deal in terms of time commitment to training and to the national team. Difficult for her and us to know what to do for the best.

Amused that TheRagingGirl thinks DC1 is a he by default, everyday sexism alive and well! Quite a lot of intellectual snobbery implicit in that response too I would say; clearly some significant divergence of approach and support according to institution.

OP’s posts: |
sendsummer Sun 11-Feb-18 22:33:41

TheRagingGirl is missing the point: elite sport is no more a hobby than work. There are international sportswomem and men who manage to balance a highly academic degree with international competitions. There are others, for example rugby players who defer entry or compromise by enrolling for part-time degree.
Bath University is another very good university that appears to be flexible and offer support www.teambath.com/athlete-zone/
Durham also has a reputation for supporting elite support.
Good luck to her. Unfortunately choices that are compromises do sometimes have to be made.


EduCated Sun 11-Feb-18 22:37:02

Most universities which take sport at all seriously will have some experience in working with nationally ranked athletes - whilst details of provision and support may vary, they will usually be keen to be seen as supportive. Worth bearing in mind that quite a few places offer sports scholarships.

TheRagingGirl Mon 12-Feb-18 08:03:44

Actually, I teach at one of the universities mentioned, and it has an elite sports student scheme. BUT we do not alter assessments, and all time away is clearly set out & negotiated. There are quite high representation standards set, as well as high academic standards.

It's not clear from the OP at what level her DC competes (and my use of 'he' was a simple misreading of DS for DC due to reading fast, not some terrible sexist plot!).

And we don't do the kind of bargaining the OP seems to be edging towards: "If she had not been doing this sport, then she would have achieved X results." There's no mitigation for time away - results achieved are the results achieved - that's why it's an elite programme both sports and academic-wise.

user369060 Mon 12-Feb-18 08:04:07

It would have been helpful if OP mentioned the subject that the DC is interested in studying, because this significantly affects the answer.

Rather few university courses (outside medicine) insist on compulsory attendance at lectures/tutorials/lab sessions. But the pace of teaching is very fast and relies on knowledge of earlier parts of the course - you can't just miss a week of lectures and expect to pick up what is going on. Nor can you expect to miss lab sessions and catch up. It is clearly going to be much easier for a student to self study and catch up using virtual learning materials in some subject areas than others - e.g. it is much harder to catch up on lab skills, programming etc, than to catch up on taught material by watching lecture recordings.

I have taught students who were engaged in sport at international level. In practice, almost all of them under performed in their degrees because they simply didn't have enough time to combine sport with full-time academic study (and mine is a subject for which use of personal contact in tutorials is essential, it's hard to completely self study).

BTW I wouldn't advise choosing by institution (as previous posters have) - just because a university claims to support those engaged in sport. The actual support offered will never be set at the university level, but will be determined by individual departments and there will be big variations within any university. It would be better to make a short list of interesting courses and then ask the question on open days/via email to their admissions teams.

TheRagingGirl Mon 12-Feb-18 08:13:19

My experience - at a RG university - is much the same as that of @user369060 The subject I teach requites presence - for workshops, labs, and group work. We'd find it tricky to accommodate someone whose primary focus was not our course.

I think that's the issue: the prioritising: studies or sports? It will have different effects on different disciplines and programmes of study.

Daisymay2 Mon 12-Feb-18 08:29:59

The other alternative is US sports scholarships which often recruit high acheiving sports students

Needmoresleep Mon 12-Feb-18 08:59:20

A lot may depend on sports. DD knew several who landed sports scholarships in the States. But even then there was a decision to be made about the balance between top academics and top sport. So Harvard might accommodate a top sportsperson academically (though probably not in something like premed) but better training would happen at a non Ivy. Money offered would also differ.

For team sports it might be worth looking at BUCS leagues. Universities towards the top will be wanting to recruit sports people and sometimes offer reduced entry grades and scholarships. (Birmingham Exeter Bath and Durham are amongst the names that crop up) You could speak to admissions who should be able to find someone to speak to about how their best athletes are supported.

But ultimately a decision needs to be made by the athlete. Paula Radcliffe apparently chose Loughborough over Cambridge. Within a sport coaches will know which Universities have access to the best facilities and training.

TheDrsDocMartens Mon 12-Feb-18 12:32:13

Some will depend on the sport too. Plus RG doesn’t mean best . That depends on the subject.

TalkinPeace Mon 12-Feb-18 13:08:06

Lad I was at Uni with asked for two weeks off from lectures for a training camp.
His own tutor got really shitty at him.
HoD signed the leave of absence - but he got NO leeway on exam results.

In the October the lad came to a lecture wearing his Olympic medal grin
His second medal was after he left Uni and his then employer gave him leave for it.

It has to be on a case by case basis

TalkinPeace Mon 12-Feb-18 13:09:47

PS he got a 2:1 back in the day when they were rare smile

Scabbersley Mon 12-Feb-18 13:14:11

You need to be looking at unis that have elite athlete programs

Even then uni work comes first and the sport fits around it.

Definitely no mitigating circumstances for A. Level results!

My daughter chose PE instead of biology at a level so that she could apply knowledge and use her sport to help her (30% of a PE a level is practical).

Scabbersley Mon 12-Feb-18 13:15:21

I wouldn't encourage a sport if you knew it would actively undermine their A levels. Training camps in the holidays are fine.

CotswoldStrife Mon 12-Feb-18 13:17:50

I thought of Loughborough straight away too - not sure they would make any allowances for absence, though which is what you are after I think. Not a sports degree but something different which would allow for the absences caused by the sport - I don't think that's going to be possible.

I have no idea if private Universities (such as Buckingham) would be able to accommodate this but you could check.

Scabbersley Mon 12-Feb-18 13:19:28

Bath is pretty good. But it's a bit rich to expect your dd to get a place at an rg uni AND then miss work for her sport.


TalkinPeace Mon 12-Feb-18 13:35:40

Interestingly my degree was nothing sporty
and although I knew what sport he played, was totally unaware of what level until the issue of the training camp came up.

He just got on with his degree and fitted the sport around it - right up till the Olympic call up.
And after the games he knuckled down like the rest of us to get his work done.
Looking at his Wikipedia page, he represented England and the UK over 200 times - while still being a pretty normal bloke.

I guess team sports are a tad different than athletics though.

thunderbee Mon 12-Feb-18 13:40:15

Thanks so much for all these helpful responses. I can see absolutely the point about presence being essential for some courses, particularly in sciences (after all, who would want to be treated by a doctor who had missed half of the course and was compensated for poor performance in assessments because of their sports involvement, even if they were an Olympic athlete!). I don't want to mention DCs sport or subject or my own background as all of these would be quite identifying - but it's not a hard science or medical route that she's thinking of so lab time wouldn't be an issues but there would likely be fieldwork to undertake.

The point about choices is a very fair one too - at some point something has to give and the individual has to make a choice about what is possible both academically and competitively within the time constraints. We had a good chat last night and she has shifted her position a bit from only wanting to apply to Oxbridge and RGs (which have the best profile in the subject she's interested in and where school is encouraging her to apply) to thinking that e.g. Loughborough could well be for her. Loughborough in particular looks to fare much better on many of the key metrics around student satisfaction than many RG universities too, which is interesting.

Thanks again for all these comments, this input has been really informative and helpful.

OP’s posts: |
Effic Mon 12-Feb-18 13:46:28

Jamie Roberts - wales & lions rugby union international is a doctor so anything is possible!
Ask the individual university’s and you’ll find most have an elite sports pathway

randomsabreuse Mon 12-Feb-18 13:50:58

This is why the UK does not do well vs countries with similar populations. In France a High Level Athlete does have exactly what you're looking for. And a lot of employers give sporting leave separate to holiday...

Scabbersley Mon 12-Feb-18 14:17:16

Loughborough is great but very isolated. Lancaster also worth a look. Plenty of dds friends are going to the states. Good luck.

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