Flora Maier: “Better sports, or £40 million that could’ve been allocated better?”

The David Ross Sports Village is soon to be completed. After the announcement of the £40 million investment and the rather quick development, given its 3480 square metre refurbishment, we are now able to gaze at its full glory when another university year rolls around in September. The new sports village will feature 20 badminton courts, courts for any sport you can imagine (korfball, futsal, you name it!), a 200 station “fitness suite”, climbing wall – the list goes on and on. In the University’s own words, “it is the largest sports hall of any university in the UK”.

The true showstopper, however, has been the membership increase to £199, against which a petition has already been created. The negative reactions towards the new figure have been immense, but why are we so surprised? Honestly, the previous membership of £120 was peanuts compared to what students at other universities pay. University of Bath’s membership can set you back £279 for peak times, let’s not forget that.

There was a membership survey undertaken by 2200 students across all campuses, which resulted in a lot of support for staying under £200, as well as having an early bird offer. The University’s Commercial Governance Board did indeed take the survey results into consideration, but the backlash has still been harsh. To be fair, by making the membership cost £199, we are below £200, and then there’s the underwhelming discount of £10 off the original price in the early bird offer…

“The fact is that £199 for starting off as a sports membership is just quite a lot of money”

It is clear why many have chosen to speak out against it, with a range of issues being voiced. What about people only involved in one sports society and non-gym-goers? The fact is that £199 for starting off as a sports membership is just quite a lot of money. As one of the University’s positive attributes is its diversity and the fact that it is full of people from different backgrounds, the low cost of the UoN sports membership has meant that sport is more accessible and enables students to be a part of the University’s sport community in multiple ways. The higher cost will make any student think twice about their involvement.

Add on separate sport societies’ memberships and the stash, trips and other expenses, and the whole thing becomes bloody expensive. The David Ross Sports Village is part of the bigger 6-year Vision For Sport, which aims to increase the participation and improve the overall offer of sports at the University. The petition offers a useful solution to the dilemma which may help to achieve that vision: the multi-tier membership. But what exactly does the future of UoN’s Sport Department hold? A bright future with better sports or £40 million that could’ve been allocated better?

Flora Maier

Image: Victor via Flickr

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