Jobwatch: Recreation grounds

April 2, 2004

Fit and active are the watchwords on today's campuses, with the emphasis on getting students to exercise their arms less in the bar and more on the sports courts. Pat Leon explains.

Sports and recreation are part and parcel of daily university life whether you are a student or member of staff. But whereas some might see the university bar as the focus of this activity, for others it is centred on playing fields, sports stadia and gymnasia.

Applicants with agile bodies and minds are in demand in this week's Times Higher , with Leeds and Portsmouth universities advertising for directors of physical education, sport and recreation, and De Montfort University seeking a lecturer in exercise physiology.

Leeds, which has one of the biggest number of students on a single campus, is looking for a director of physical education to replace Mike Lindsay, who is retiring after 25 years.

David Sugden, pro vice-chancellor student affairs, says: "We have a huge number of registered sports users - about 11,000 - mainly students, some staff and a few outside members, who use squash facilities or play five-a-side soccer." The director is "not an academic post", he says. "It used to encompass the academic and recreational sides, with Lindsay heading both. Sports science was then split from recreation and now sits in the School of Biological Sciences."

The post involves a mix of sports, leisure and recreation with a little bit of teaching - for example bringing on beginners, general student well-being, t'ai chi and so on. Leeds is expecting to draw candidates from other universities, sporting bodies such as Sport England, local and regional authorities, the coaching fraternity and even the commercial sector. Sugden says: "We are looking for someone with at least a masters and possibly a doctorate. We'll find them. There are good people around."

Portsmouth, which has 3,000 registered sports users, has opened a £1.2 million fitness centre with all the latest equipment, plus outdoor facilities such as an artificial grass pitch, sitting alongside student residential halls. Felippo Antoniazzi has overseen the £3.5 million expansion in sporting infrastructure but is now moving to Robert Gordon University in Scotland.

The director will manage not only excellent facilities but a department working with a very active athletics union and the local community - schools, sports clubs and the city council sports development unit.

Antoniazzi says: "Facilities management is key to understanding sports development in higher education, which is taking place in a changing political sports landscape. A lot of university facilities across the country rival the private sector."

The service has strong links with the academic department of sport and exercise science. Chris Hughes, senior lecturer in the department, says:

"We work on a lot of community projects jointly, in particular on one called Up for It, where student volunteers run sports programmes for young people."

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