In 2018, BUCS and Sport England set out to deliver positive impact across two key areas: inactivity in female students, and using physical activity to tackle mental health issues. Through creating the BUCS Active project, we were able to engage 5,398 students in the first year alone, far surpassing the original target.
Due to the success of the project, BUCS Active 2 was launched in 2019, followed by BUCS Active 3 in 2020. The evolution of the project also saw the introduction of a third target area alongside female inactivity and positive mental wellbeing, focussed on inactive students from low socio-economic backgrounds.
We are pleased to be able to now release a report to showcase the full impact of BUCS Active over the last three years.
In total, 17,411 students have taken part in BUCS Active Projects, enabling initiatives to take place such as; the University of Surrey’s ‘Unleash Your Potential’ campaign, Nottingham Trent University’s ‘Get Into A New Sport’ campaign, and the University of East London’s ‘Move East London’ programme. Collectively 51,026 engagements in physical activity have been recorded across all BUCS Active projects.
Taking a dive into the data from BUCS Active 3, we are able to report the significant increase in positive mental wellbeing amongst participants. On the Short-Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale, mental wellbeing increased by two points from beginning to end of the project (from 25.5 to 27.6).
The positive impact that BUCS Active projects have had on students is further evidenced through their feedback. After completing Sport Brighton’s BUCS Active initiative - their Couch to 5k programme - one participant highlighted: 'I have no doubts that this gave me the confidence to walk the South Downs Way over the summer and also avoid injuries! Thank you for the new lease of life!'
Jenny Morris, Director of Delivery at BUCS, is full of praise for the outcomes of BUCS Active 3: “The expansion to the focus areas of the project during its third iteration enabled us to grow the reach and impact of BUCS Active at a time when it was most keenly needed. The continued support and investment from Sport England has been integral to the project's success, but the impact would not have been possible had it not been for the buy in and commitment from the universities delivering initiatives on the ground.
The innovative thinking behind individual projects is the driving force behind the fantastic engagement levels we have been able to record. Not just in relation to the original concepts, but across the response we have seen to the unique challenge of the last 12 months. To be able to celebrate the continued positive impact of BUCS Active, despite the recent adversity faced by the sector, is testament to all those that have been involved in driving the programme since 2018.”
Mike Diaper, Executive Director of Children and Young People at Sport England, commented "It’s great that so many students took part in BUCS Active 3. This past year has been so disrupted, making the need for students to keep involved in sport and physical activity more important than ever, so the fact that so many universities have been able to adapt and keep students moving is great.
Projects like BUCS Active are important tools to help students keep healthy and happy during their studies, but also in developing great habits for a lifetime. Increasing the reach of this project this past year has meant those who need it the most have been able to get active and enjoy all the benefits."
Although the occurrence of the pandemic midway through the programme posed significant challenges, universities were successful in pivoting their delivery digitally to adapt to a new landscape and worked together towards a common goal of getting more students active.