Going for gold now more of a gamble

April 5, 1996

A leaked draft of the Bannister report on sports scholarships has confirmed that universities will have to compete for National Lottery money for students.

Members of the committee, which is headed by Sir Roger Bannister, were angered to discover a few weeks ago that the Government does not intend to put any extra money into scholarships, but the National Heritage department subsequently confirmed that lottery money would be available .

The leaked draft, which was due to be finalised at a meeting of the committee last Monday, also says that universities will have to find sponsors to fund scholarships. It lays down strict criteria for participation in any scholarship scheme. The committee has reviewed existing British schemes and looked at practice in the United States and Germany.

The criteria are likely to limit the number of institutions taking part. They specify that scholarships be awarded for one year and be renewable. Part-time and disabled students should be eligible. Awards and renewals should be reviewed regularly. Scholars should meet academic requirements laid down by admissions tutors and should either be international-level performers or show international potential.

Universities will have to provide flexible study, including leave of absence for a semester or a year and occasional deferment of examinations for national or world competitions. Free, easily accessible, top-class training facilities should also be available. Universities will have to furnish free, regular, national-level coaching, free and easy on-site access to physiotherapy and prompt medical referrals, special diets, accommodation close to training facilities and free and easy access to science support.

Scholars will be expected to sign an agreement with the university and their sports governing body or sponsor, to represent the university and still satisfy its academic requirements.

Universities can already bid to the Lottery Sports Fund for money for sports facilities. This week the sports fund made its largest award to date when it gave the University of Central Lancashire Pounds 7,976,853 for an outdoor multi-sport complex on 24 hectares of land.

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