The Times and The Sunday Times Sports University of the Year 2016

The University of Exeter was named as The Times and The Sunday Times Sports University of the Year 2016, in recognition of excellence in sports performance, education and research.

The award acknowledges Exeter as the best in the country in academia and athletic achievement across a wide range of sports. It takes into account the University’s outstanding support for athletes, very high student satisfaction in sport-related programmes and world-leading research which enhances athletic performance at all levels.

Research

Sport and Health Sciences at the University of Exeter was ranked 3rd in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework for research quality and intensity in Sport and Exercise Sciences. This bears testament to the breadth and depth of our world class research, which encompasses: biomechanics, physiology, nutrition, psychology and physical activity for health through the lifespan from childhood to old age. Our research was also adjudged to have world class impact, for example informing cutting edge sports science support for Olympic athletes and informing the setting of physical activity guidelines to support health through the lifespan. Critically, our world class researchers are also excellent teachers who take great pride in inspiring and training the next generation of sport and exercise scientists. This passion for scientific research and education is a vital aspect of our winning ethos and culture.

Achievements

The University attracts elite student athletes and has 50 sports clubs, supporting students at all levels of competition. The University is the top ranked institution nationally for Rugby, Golf and Men’s Hockey. In the British Universities and College (BUCS) sport rankings, the University finished 5th for league and cup competition across all sports for the 15/16 season.

The University strives to nurture talent, and offers a range of tailored scholarships to more than 30 athletes each year. Two thirds of the student population plays sport, and the Athletics Union at Exeter boasts more than 7000 members.

People

The University of Exeter has a very proud sporting tradition which dates back to our early origins as a collection of schools and colleges in the early twentieth century. This passion for sport continues to modern times where we consistently finish in the top ten of the annual BUCS (British Universities and Colleges Sport, formerly BUSA and UAU) rankings of 153 British institutions.

Throughout our history, sport has enhanced the Exeter experience for thousands of students, supported the development of many elite athletes and we've celebrated a number of significant achievements along the way.

Education

Nationally, interest in sport and exercise science is on the increase and at Exeter we are proud to be educating a new generation of experts to lead this field. Against the backdrop of a growing obesity crisis and related health problems, we are promoting a new wave of innovators who will be part of a movement to promote physical activity and its benefits in numerous ways and across a wide range of populations.

Sport and Health Sciences is currently rated as the number 1 Sport and Exercise Science course in the UK (Complete University Guide 2016) and 2nd in the UK for student satisfaction (99% satisfaction, NSS 2015), and has consistently been placed in the top 5 across the different league tables.  Part of the reason for this is that our students have access to be hands-on with world-leading research from day one. They are taught by excellent staff and supported in every element of their academic and, in many cases, their sporting lives, through high quality expertise and facilities. It allows students the freedom to explore the subjects that really interest them, and to see the theory in action as they learn about the science of sport and exercise.

As an applied subject, the Exeter programmes involve the students learning about sport and exercise, through understanding of the physiology, psychology and biomechanics involved.  The programmes teach students about the basic science of how the human body responds during exercise and how performance can be optimised for either sporting or health-related outcomes.  In modules such as exercise physiology, sports psychology and biomechanics, the students learn about how science can help an athlete train, prepare and compete to the best of their abilities. What is the recommended diet for an athlete? What can an athlete do to stop choking when under pressure? What are the cushioning properties of different footwear for a runner? How to recover faster? The breadth of the programme means that students are also taught about the importance of becoming and keeping physically active across the life span to help maintain good health - tackling questions such as: Why do people become sedentary and how can we motivate them to be more active? How does exercise help to improve blood sugar control in people with diabetes? How can exercise help with the rehabilitation from knee surgery?  The course content rightly reflects the research expertise of the teaching staff, such that students have the chance to learn from leading experts in the topics of paediatric exercise science, oxygen kinetics, physical activity and the built environment, and gaze control, providing them with the most up-to-date understanding of the key questions being tackled presently.

The undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in Sport and Health Science reflect the importance of sport and exercise at the University of Exeter and the national interest in sport and health.  Sport and exercise-related courses are the 8th most popular subject to study at university in the UK with over 10,000 graduates each year graduating from such programmes.   At Exeter we have more than 500 students enrolled in programmes related to sport and health sciences, and they share a passion for their subject with the staff who teach them. It is an ethos designed to empower students to reach their full potential in whatever direction they choose. Many undergraduates go on to research at postgraduate level. Graduates from the programmes enter a diverse range of careers including for example the National Institutes of Sport, National sporting governing bodies, Sports brand management/marketing, Sports Law and in the health sector within the NHS, BUPA and the civil service.