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Elite Student-Athlete Pathway

Elite Student Athlete Pathway


The ESAP Program provides leadership and direction to establish and deliver strategies that build capacity and foster collaboration between Australian Universities, the National Institute Network (NIN) and National Sporting Organisations (NSOs) to identify, monitor and support elite student-athletes. 

High performance sport requires a significant commitment from the athlete, especially when combined with academic studies. Elite student-athletes often require extensive support to excel in both pursuits. As such, elite student-athletes may be entitled to access support from several organisations such as their university, NSO, state institute/academy of sport (SIS/SAS), sporting club, government (local, state and/or federal) or local community.  

UniSport Australia member universities provide support to approximately 5000 elite and emerging student athletes ranging from state representatives up to national team and professional athletes. More than 60 university staff provide support to these student athletes in the form of academic support, sport performance assistance and personal development. 


Categorisation of Athletes

How an elite athlete is defined will vary across the university sector. Typically universities will support elite athletes within Australia whom are categorised by their respective National Sporting Organisation (NSO) and may also be on scholarship within the network of sport institutes and academies across Australia. 

Athletes who fall outside of this cohort must be identified and recognised, or be a member of one of the following organisations as an 'elite athlete or coach':


  • Australian Institute of Sport

  • State Institutes or Academies of Sport

  • AFL Players’ Association

  • Australian Cricketers’ Association

  • Rugby Union Players’ Association

  • Rugby League Professionals’ Association

  • Australian Professional Footballers’ Association

  • National squad members from Australian Sports Commission funded sports

Elite athlete resources

Elite Athlete Resources

UniSport have compiled a number of best practice resources directly related to supporting elite athletes and elite athlete staff. This area will assist university staff to deliver support in the areas of academic studies, sport performance and personal development as well as providing staff with personal and professional development resources.

Uni contacts

Elite Athlete University Contact List


Elite Athlete Education Network

The Elite Athlete Education Network (EAEN), formerly known as the Elite Athlete Friendly University program, supports Australia’s elite athletes to achieve academic excellence while also pursuing a sporting career.  The value of combining both sport and higher education to achieve greater life success is well recognised across the university and sporting sectors.  There are 41 universities across Australia that are part of the EAEN.  Each of these universities provide academic support and flexibility to endorsed elite student-athletes, generally those performing at a national or international level. 

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