Olympian opportunities to be involved in the Games

December 21, 2007

From Bristol University's plans to host the Kenyan athletics team to
institutions of England's north-east tackling social exclusion through
sport, the whole UK higher education sector is on track to make the most
of the opportunities presented by the 2012 Olympics, writes Zoe Corbyn.


This is the main message of a report that was delivered to John
Denham, the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills, by
the Higher Education Funding Council for England last month. The document
provides an overview of the capacity of universities to respond to the
staging of the event and to enhancing its "legacy".


"The feedback we have had is that the sector is well advanced in its
thinking compared to where Sydney was (at the same time)," said Steve
Egan, deputy chief executive at the funding council. "A lot of
universities have thought it through as a big opportunity to position
themselves, and I am very happy with where we are."


The report says Hefce will provide £10 million to the sector over the next
three years for projects addressing "legacy issues relating to the
Games".


The money is intended to fund projects that widen participation, improve
links with local businesses and better position the sector internationally
by tapping into enthusiasm for the event. It will help universities move
beyond merely providing basics such as accommodation and venues,
translators and student volunteers.


The Sport Universities North East England partnership will be first to
receive a slice of the funding. A joint project of Newcastle, Northumbria,
Durham, Sunderland and Teesside universities, the partnership brings
together volunteer student sports coaches and socially deprived
groups.


Another initiative to which the report refers is Bristol University's work
with the city council and local businesses to build links with Kenya.
Bristol will host the Kenyan athletics team in the run-up to the 2012
Games.


The Hefce report follows the December 7 release by the London 2012
Organising Committee of its education programme for schools, colleges and
universities.

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