Sport and Exercise Science; Impact on the UK Economy Report
Posted: Sat, 15 Jun 2019 18:48
We are used to discussing the value of sport for development programmes and how sport and physical activity can be deployed in reducing crime, unemployment and increasing educational attainment, all enterprises that improve the quality of people's lives and reduce the financial burden on society. But what role do universities and graduates from the sport and exercise sciences have in adding value to the UK economy? The Sports Think Tank heard some interesting presentations at the reception for The Physiological Society and Guild HE's report on the impact on the UK economy of sport and exercise science (SES) in higher education.
According to Which? sport science graduate numbers increased from under 3,000 in 2003 to over 9,500 in 2012. Conservative figures given the apparent boom in SES uncovered by the report in question, which lists a figure of 51,800 for the total number of SES students for the year 2016-17.
The other headline results from the report include the findings that around 96% of SES students remain working in the UK after graduation and the work of graduates for the year 2016-17 contributed £7.8billion to the UK public purse, equivalent to supporting over 143,000 jobs. Overall, every £1 students invest in SES higher education is converted into £5.50 in higher future salary.
The aforementioned presentations at the launch were brief introductions to a few of the many case studies from the report, highlighting work done by students and graduates in sport science, in the field of high performance sport, but also in the health and care sectors.
For example, students at Plymouth Marjon University who lead activity sessions for patients with various non-communicable conditions have contributed to significant quality of life improvements for those suffering from the likes of cancer and back-pain. These activity sessions are organised in collaboration with local partners and regional NHS health providers.
Disciplines like biomechanics are perhaps more associated with elite sport, but can also contribute to health care and wellbeing. Biomechanics research at Liverpool John Moores University for example is looking to reduce the burden on the NHS by investigating the mechanisms underpinning stair-falls in the elderly and infirm, something that reportedly costs the NHS £2billion.
According to Johnathan Doust, former chair of the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences, SES has driven change in government policies around health and the prevention of lifestyle diseases like type-2 diabetes and obesity, while in the private sector, businesses have invested in sport science expertise to design and market technologies in sportswear, nutrition and fitness programmes.
Overall, things continue to look positive for SES. By all accounts, SES offers an excellent rate of employment after graduation and a worthwhile investment for potential students. With the health care sector increasingly looking to the skills of specialists in physiology, biomechanics and related disciplines, future opportunities for graduates are likely to be many.
It is hoped this report keeps up the momentum and ensures SES faculties attract increasing amounts of investment and students for future growth.
Luke Regan is Researcher for The Sports Think Tank