Concrete has learnt that the Sports Partnership Group (SPG), which comprises of representatives from UEA, the Sportspark and the Union of UEA Students (UUEAS), is considering changes to the way students’ sport clubs are organised and structured.
At a meeting on 11th November, the director of the Sportspark, Phil Steele, gave a presentation to the SPG outlining his proposals for taking sports clubs out of the direct control of UUEAS, and for handing responsibility for these extra-curricular groups to either UEA Sport or an ‘Athletics Union’.
In his presentation, Steele argued that by placing student sport clubs under the control of one organisation, money and funding for clubs could be more efficiently spent and distributed.
In the presentation, he emphaisised that this was particularly important given tight budget constraints. However, how a reorganisation of the current set up would prove more economically efficient is currently unclear.
Steele also argued that the changes would create a simpler structure that would make it easier for students to organise activities within their clubs.
However, UUEAS has challenged these claims, arguing that there is no proof the reorganisation would benefit students as suggested. Concrete understands that the union is firmly against Steel’s suggestions because it fears that the proposed changes would lead to less leadership from students within societies and a more hands on approach by the UEA+ Sport organisation.
At Union Council on 9th October, councillors voted unanimously in favour of a resolution which committed student sports clubs to being a part of the union in any partnership groups.
The union’s Activities and Opportunities Officer, Yinbo Yu, is worried that the implementation of Steele’s proposals would go against the wishes of students. Speaking to Concrete, he said: “I am disappointed that the university seems to be ignoring the wishes of Union Council, which made it clear that students want sport clubs to continue to be student-led and run within the union.
“Instead of discussing how best we can work collectively to improve student sports, the focus continues to be on who will run our sports clubs moving into the future. The Sports Partnership Group should be about using the strengths of both the union and UEA Sport to deliver a better and more cohesive function and make our excellent sports clubs even better.”
A university spokesperson emphasised that, at present, the ideas are in their infancy and that no firm decisions have been made. They said: “A Sports Partnership Group, which includes representatives of the union, student body, university and UEA Sport, was set up earlier this year has met twice to discuss the coordination of sport for students at UEA.
“At this stage the meetings are for exploration and discussion and no proposals or decisions have been made”.
The SPG is due to continue discussing the future of student sport clubs when it next meets on the 12th December.