Wayne Smith with The Australian writes that Australian Olympic Committee chief John Coates believes the universities sector is the missing link in Australian sport.
Not since Combined Universities Athletics Club went dormant in 2005 has there been a uni presence at the AIS Athletics track.
"I have long believed that the missing link now in Australian sport is tapping into the universities sector," Coates told The Australian.
"With all the resources they have and I've seen in some sports like rowing, it's very much the backbone of the sport. It has that potential across many other sports.
"And it also has the advantage of addressing one of the great problems we have, which is life after sport for athletes.
"So many of them are not these days bothering with tertiary education or with work while they're practising sport. And then they finish sport and think that sport owes them a living and they haven't prepared for it themselves. I'm not talking of the superstars. It's probably the next level down."
The University of Canberra and the ANU are members of the Elite Athlete Friendly University (EAFU) Network and have signed an agreement with the Australian Sports Commission and the Australian Capital Territory Academy of Sport to support the needs of elite student athletes. UC are dedicated to helping their elite athlete students balance their sporting commitments with their academic goals by:
- offering bonus ATAR points
- offering the Elite Athletes Program.
EAFU allows young high achievers in sport to be admitted to courses and faculties that they might otherwise just have missed out on with their high school leaving scores.
"So kids who might not otherwise have got into a university course because of their sport have gained access," Coates said.
UC's elite athletes on scholarships, receive $2500 per annum to financially support their elite athletes in their study and training, whilst they undertake their degree at the University and encourage them to be active participants in the University.
Coates said it was not the job of the AOC to drive Australian sport into a closer union with the tertiary education sector but he admitted he had strongly encouraged the Australian Sports Commission to further explore that course.
"With our economy where it's at, it's clear there's not going to be more money for Australian Olympic sports, as I acknowledged ... in London. We have to be pleased with what we've got and spend it more wisely. But there's still this other resource we should be tapping into."
Coates believes sports tapping into university resources, includes just as much fit, young bodies as well as funding and facilities.
The re-establishment of University Athletics in the ACT is a major strategy for the Ginninderra Tigers in our push to bridge the age gap in the sport, build capacity and capability, as well as enrich the social and physical needs of students both on and off campus.