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British universities & Colleges Sport

Our History

BUCS as a brand is still relatively young, just eight years old, but our history is much longer. In fact this year we are celebrating 100 years of university sport competition!

BUCS was inaugurated in 2008 as a result of a merger between University College Sport, the body which represented the professionals who worked in HE sport, and British University Sports Association (BUSA), the organisation which delivered leagues, competitions and events for inter university sports to over 150 member institutions across the entire UK, but our history is much older than that...

February 1918

The Presidents of University Unions conference in Manchester calls for the need to establish an ‘association’ to promote the development of sport at university

February 1919

The Inter-Varsity Athletics Board of England and Wales holds its first inter-varsity meeting consisting of nine universities

14 March 1919

The Inter-Varsity Athletics Board of England and Wales formalise the first ever athletics meeting involving 10 universities (The Founding 10), Aberystwyth, Bangor, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Leeds, Liverpool, Nottingham, Manchester & Sheffield 

28 May 1919

The first athletic meet takes place in Manchester with 9 out of the founding 10 competing. The meet marks the official beginning of University sport in the UK


Association Football, Hockey, Rugby Union and Swimming are added to the events programme

November 1923

The Women’s Inter-Varsity Board (WIVAB) is created to cater for the needs of women students


The University of London provide accommodation for the association’s headquarters


The Universities Athletic Union (formerly the Inter-Varsity Athletics Board) is established. The following year it appoints its first secretary, Captain Evan A Hunter


A compulsory course in Physical Recreation is established for all first year students at university. Informal gatherings of tutors, lecturers and staff begin to discuss the merits of forming an association to represent those responsible for organising physical education, recreation, sport and health for students took place over several years. 


The British Universities Sports Board (BUSB) is formed to manage Britain’s student representation at an international level.


The Universities Physical Education Association (UPEA) is formed to represent staff responsible for sport at university.


The British Universities Sports Federation (BUSF) replaces the British Universities Sports Board. Membership of BUSF is open to all universities in the UK and University Colleges of Wales. The Scottish Universities Sports Federation, the University of Wales Athletic Union and the Northern Ireland Universities Sports Committee are corporate members. During this time, colleges and polytechnics are catered for by the British Colleges Sports Association and the British Polytechnic Sports Association


UPEA becomes British Universities Physical Education Association (BUPEA) at a conference at the University of Kent.


Men’s and women’s sport (WIVAB) in England and Wales come together under one organisation, Universities Athletic Union (UAU)


BUEPA merges with the Association of Polytechnic Physical Education Lecturers (APPEL) to become British Universities and Colleges Physical Education Association (BUCPEA)

November 1994

With the removal of the binary divide in higher education in 1992, a new single organisation is needed to represent the sporting interests of students. UAU and BUSF merge to create British Universities Sports Association (BUSA)


BUCPEA is renamed as University and College Sport (UCS)

June 2005

Scottish Universities Sport (SUS) is established to ensure quality and breadth in well-managed sporting programmes, increasing and promoting involvement in physical activity, and aiding and supporting the development of appropriate professional structures and systems throughout sport in higher education in Scotland.

January 2006

A symposium, held in Coventry, agrees to investigate how the experience and expertise of BUSA and UCS can be brought together to create a new body for sport on campus

13 June 2008

British Universities & Colleges Sport is incorporated as the new, national voice for university sport, following a merger between University College Sport (UCS) and British Universities Sports Association (BUSA).

Andy Burnham MP and David Lammy MP hosted the BUCS official launch on 31 October 2008 at the Houses of Parliament. At the launch BUCS shared an overview of its strategy to enhance the student experience through sport.


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