In the media

Sport and study - the winning formula

Pursuing a dual career of sport and study helps improve athletic and academic performance, creating a virtuous cycle of success, says ActivateUTS CEO Liz Brett. 40% of the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Olympic teams were student athletes. They won over 62% of the medals. UTS supports 230 athletes through the Elite Athlete Program, helping them perform at their peak.

The challenge of balancing study and sport, a dual career, is an incredibly difficult one. Yet, it’s something that every athlete should be pursuing. Athletes who study have a more sustained and successful sporting career, they regularly outperform non-athletes in the classroom and they are graduates who are highly sought after by industry. Above all, athletes who prepare for life after sport stand a better chance at survival when it comes time to transition. And we’ve all seen the devastating results in the media of athletes who didn’t take that step. In recent years, sport has gone from strength to strength at UTS and we've created a vibrant university sporting culture. Certainly, the pinnacle of this success was Team UTS winning the Australian University Games in 2017, for the first time in UTS’ history, and in the same year being crowned Overall Champion of Australian University Sport for the second year in a row. Our intervarsity success has been a slow burner, so to speak, but it’s never a win-at-all-costs approach. In fact, it’s a win-win outcome that drives our success, underpinned by the positive culture of our student athletes who are on the Elite Athlete Program (EAP). The UTS Elite Athlete Program is home to 230 student athletes who represent Australia in their chosen sport. This program has doubled in size across the last five years and it’s the flexibility and support offered by UTS which has attracted so many of our country’s finest student athletes to choose UTS as their tertiary institution. Pursuing a dual career provides an athlete with the balance they so desperately need when they’re training and competing. Our UTS student athletes tell us that study is the distraction they need to switch off from thinking about sport, competition, training or that fight they may have just had with their coach. It’s something to give them perspective and perspective makes all the difference. This anecdotal information has recently been backed up by data from Australian University Sport, in conjunction with the Australian Sports Commission. The data was taken from three Olympic cycles; Athens 2004, Beijing 2008 and London 2012. This data showed that while only 40 per cent of the three Olympic teams were student athletes, they won over 62 per cent of the medals. The qualitative data included feedback from the athletes who confirmed that the balance between sport and study was the winning formula. We also know that, through their engagement in sport, our athletes develop traits that are highly valued by industry. These are those softer skills that you so often hear about in class, but rarely have the opportunity to develop in practice. These traits include resilience, the ability to work within a team, positive communication, the ability to engender the support of many different types of people towards a common goal. It’s no wonder that, in a hypercompetitive employment market, student athletes are the pick of the bunch. Our student athletes are an incredible group of humans and certainly it’s the flexibility and support provided by UTS through the EAP that facilitates their success across the dual career pathway, setting our student athletes in good stead for the rest of their lives. We can all be proud of the success of our student athletes. They’re talented athletes, dedicated students and, like so many of our UTS graduates, positive contributors to a better world.