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We need cheaper gym memberships, not new Sports Centres

The University of Nottingham is pumping millions of pounds into new sporting facilities to encourage people to get more involved in sport. However, who will really be left to pick up the costs of this investment?

These new facilities will include a sports village, an expanded fitness suite, an indoor sprinting track and a climbing wall amongst other things

The University is investing £40 million into new sports facilities. These new facilities will include a sports village, an expanded fitness suite, an indoor sprinting track and a climbing wall amongst other things. The building of these facilities is set to start in February 2015 and will most likely be finished by June 2016.

The University is regarded as an incredibly successful sporting institution. With 112 teams competing in BUCS and currently placing 4th in overall BUCS Points Position, it is undisputed that the University of Nottingham is home to elite athletes and teams who need support from the University in order to maintain these high standards.

There is one very valuable group of students they have failed to consider in this year’s change – members of sports teams

However, this year has demonstrated that the University may not have the best interests of the students at heart; the University scrapped the Bronze, Silver and Gold level access system at the University sports centre and introduced a flat fee of £135 for unlimited access to the University facilities.

Yes, this was a massive improvement on the levelled system as it encouraged those who had opted for a cheaper membership with limited access to pay the £135 for unlimited access, as before the unlimited access membership weighed in at £165. Now, with this benefitting the vast majority of students, the University may see this year’s change in system as a success, but there is one very valuable group of students they have failed to consider in this year’s change – members of sports teams.

The University has, in my opinion, failed to take into consideration the extortionate amounts of money already being paid by the members of sports teams.

In order to play or compete for a University team, it is necessary to be a member of that club, and most clubs have a team subscription – a membership fee that needs to be paid which covers the costs of the club. For some teams, such as UoN Athletics, this fee is just £20 and gives members access to all the training and coaching the club offers. However, some clubs, for example the Men’s Hockey Club, the membership fee comes in at £195, and this should cover all of their coaching and fixtures and pitch hire. It is, unfortunately, mandatory for members of sports teams, to join the University Sports Centre to cover the costs of the facilities used. The University has, in my opinion, failed to take into consideration the extortionate amounts of money already being paid by the members of sports teams. They have offered no alternative membership for dedicated University-level athletes who will not get the full £135 worth out of their membership.

“Crikey, that’s a lot, but I do love hockey.”

So you rock up to the Men’s Hockey trials, a keen young fresher with decent pace and a strong tackle, and you make the 2nd team. You are then told you have to pay £195 membership. You think, “Crikey, that’s a lot, but I do love hockey.” You are then told a week later that you have to purchase a £135 gym membership. You think it through. £135 for a gym membership. You have training twice a week, two matches a week, a social life and an education to maintain. When are you even going to go to the gym? You’re probably not. So you decide not to play hockey.

The University is sending the wrong message to both new students and people wanting to take up sports – in order to be active, you need to have money. If you can’t afford it, you won’t play sports. It is crucial to find the balance by matching student investment with University investment; otherwise instead of sprinting to success, the University will be running into the ground.

Beth Thayne

Image courtesy of Runar Eilertsen via Flickr

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3 Comments on this post.
  • Alex
    17 November 2014 at 11:12
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    Whilst i understand where you’re coming from i do think maybe you could have done more research prior to writing this article. Having studied at both Nottingham and in London (masters), for what we get at Nottingham for the price is so much more than many other universities.
    Compared to other universities in the country- our membership is actually fairly reasonable for what we get.

  • Penny
    17 November 2014 at 16:40
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    It would be good to have a like-for-like comparison with the sports/gym memberships provided at other universities. For instance, at Imperial College London the students only pay a one-off fee of £40 which covers the period of their entire degree, whereas at University of Birmingham students pay between £104-277 per year based on a range of packages. However I’m not sure if those memberships are necessary for access to the sporting facilities.

    I’m not a member of a sports team but have opted to join a non-uni gym close to my accommodation due to its convenience and the £10/month that’s a bit more manageable than a one-off payment of £120/135.

  • Steve
    17 November 2014 at 18:09
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    Not all sports clubs require gym membership, members of UoN athletics which you mentioned for example do not need this, just their club membership

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