University sport ‘helps graduates earn more’

Playing sport at university is linked to a higher salary and fewer periods of unemployment, new research has claimed.

July 11, 2013

The Sport Industry Research Centre at Sheffield Hallam University calculated that the average graduate who played sport while studying earns £5,824 (18 per cent) more than those who did not.

Twenty-one per cent of graduates who were sporty students had experienced a period of unemployment during their career, compared with per cent of those who did not participate.

The centre conducted the survey on nearly 6,000 students on behalf of British Universities & Colleges Sport.

Simon Shibli, co-director of the centre, said that sport was a way students could demonstrate ambition, drive, motivation and leadership to prospective employers.

“The results of this research are proof positive that sport in higher education provides a recognised and valuable part of the student experience,” he said.

“Involvement in sport makes a real, measurable and positive impact not just on the student experience, but also on life beyond higher education.”

The study also surveyed 112 graduate recruiting companies, 94 per cent of which said there was a “clear link between university sport participation and valuable skills and strengths in potential employees”.

Karen Rothery, chief executive of BUCS, said: “In a challenging economic climate, employers increasingly require candidates to demonstrate achievements beyond academic ability – key attributes such as team work, communication skills and leadership that can be developed through sport make a student stand out.”

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Reader's comments (2)

Independent Private schools commonly emphasise sport results and quality facilities on websites and apparently link sport to part of their relative academic success. In contrast this feature is almost absent from State schools websites, other than maybe reference to PE studies. Indeed the lack of (inter-school) sport competition in State schools seems to have recently gained Government attention, for example a little extra State funding for Primary schools coupled with OFSTED inspection, and also focused Sport England etc. investment through the NGBs to encourage more sports activity in schools and links to clubs. Possibly the sport activity data reported for the university students would reflect this schools sector differential also?

What does "playing sport" mean in this context? Engaging in school sports or, say, being physically active in your personal life? “The results of this research are proof positive that sport in higher education provides a recognised and valuable part of the student experience,” A 6% difference with room for any amount of uncontrolled variables is hardly "proof".

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