In the Postgraduate Assembly on 4th December, we'll be holding an open forum to talk about Postgraduate sports provision. Myself and your Activities and Opportunities Officer will be there to hear your views and we really want as many Postgraduates as possible to come along to develop policy that reflects what you want. Pizza and wine is provided, and the assembly takes place at 6pm in bookable room 6.
When I started as Postgraduate Education Officer back in 2016, access to sport was an issue that people often wanted to talk to me about. We were hearing anecdotal accounts of Postgraduates wanting to get involved in sports but being unable to due to the inaccessibility of sports provision at UEA. As the first step to improving this, we launched some research to find out what Postgrads wanted in terms of sports and what the barriers to participation were.
We found from our research that Postgraduates wanted drop-in sports sessions that take place at times convenient to them (outside teaching hours) and don't involve a long-term financial or time commitment. This has been proven by the success of our uea(su) run drop-in yoga on a Wednesday. We also found that the majority of Postgrads had a preference for doing physical activity with other postgraduates and felt uncomfortable in the Undergraduate-heavy sports club environment. Another interesting point raised was that a large proportion of respondents said that they did physical activity to relieve stress – indicating the importance of sports provision for PG mental health.
In response to this, we've been constantly highlighting the need for dedicated Postgraduate drop-in sports to uea+sport. They've maintained that the UEActive drop-ins are enough – though out of 12 weekly sessions, only 4 run after 6pm and out of those four, only 1 is on a weekend, meaning that they are not accessible to Postgrads.
There are also problems with the SportsPark memberships that are available for those who want to go to the gym or swim when they're able to. 1/3 of our PGT students are part-time and therefore not eligible for student rates at the SportsPark on gym memberships or individual gym rates. PGR students are also at a disadvantage when it comes to SportsPark membership, as they often need to be able to exercise at peak times due to work and study commitments. However, PGR students are not allowed to buy a standard Gold public membership and are restricted to the Gold student membership. Not only does the Gold student membership force them to pay £300 in one lump sum, it also doesn't give them access to peak exercise classes. This is despite the fact that postgraduates are here for the full year and therefore use the sports park in the same way as a member of the general public.
This year there was a drop of over 12% in the number of postgraduates who joined sports clubs, despite the number of postgraduates at UEA being on the increase. We'd really like uea+sport to provide better options for Postgraduates to take part in exercise, but can only do it with the backing of students. At the Postgraduate assembly, you'll have the chance to make your voice heard and hopefully make some change! If you can't make it, but want to make a comment, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org