Sports societies can offer students valuable outlets from their academic studies and can build friendships and camaraderie. But does every student have an equal opportunity to take part?

Research on students from 20 universities found a stark participation gap between students of varying backgrounds. Of the more well-off students, 63% were members of a university sport or fitness club, compared with 34% from the lowest socio-economic group.

The reasons mentioned by students who do not participate in sports included lack of time (due to part-time jobs), cost of membership, and lack of sport prior to university – an issue that tends not to affect privately educated students.

How are universities tackling this issue?

The Bristol SU, for example, has launched the ‘Activity Hardship Fund’ to encourage students to take part in sport who are financially unable to. The fund is offering up to £100 per student.

Elitism in university sport is a representation of the social division that is rife in the Higher Education sector. The ‘Activity Hardship Fund’ is a small step towards creating a level playing field for university students, but is a step in the right direction nonetheless.

To read more about this, visit the Epigram website.