BUCS sought to understand the views of both staff and students on how participation in sport and physical activity may have been affected by the increasing cost of living. They conducted surveys (which engaged 2,334 students and 80 staff from 140 higher education institutions), as well as interviews and focus groups with 16 students and Sabbatical Officers.

They found five main themes:

·      Everyone has been squeezed: the whole higher education sector from BUCS to students, meaning support is more sparsely available.

·      Some protective factors helped students stay engaged: for example a flexible job with good wages, family support, or if their institution had enough resources to focus on sport. However students from traditionally under-represented groups and those with a disability were disproportionately affected.

·      Students are making a value assessment about sport: some students are simply priced-out, while others are being more careful with their money and may invest in participation if they feel there is value in doing so.

·      Transparency and fairness matter: students want clarity on reasons why participation costs have increased, and are more understanding if staff are open with them about the pressures faced financially.

·      Sense of belonging and sport culture have a taken a hit: during the COVID pandemic students did not fully experience the ability of sport to provide a sense of belonging and culture, and the cost-of-living has not helped this situation.

The sector is resilient but there are ongoing challenges, despite innovation - funding options are stretched. BUCS have also provided some Recommendations.


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