Sport and Leisure decided last year that college need a Sports Development Plan (SDP) to develop sport in the following areas; facilities, participation and excellence. It is an excellent idea, and with an SDP, money can be requested from external organisations and from College to improve sport in all areas.
Last year, the SDP was proposed to Nona Ahamat (last year’s Deputy President for Clubs and Societies) and she was asked for comments. Then all too suddenly, a strategy was proposed for the SDP and a decision was made to employ someone in April of next year to implement the scheme, which seemed like a bid from S&L to organise College sport. The outcry was more that Imperial College Union had not been involved as much as it would have liked in the process to formulate the SDP. At present, the Union organises sport and S&L manage facilities, although curiously ex-Union Student Activities Manager, Nick Gore was employed by S&L in October this year.
In a recent S&L committee meeting; a high level college strategic meeting, after much verbal prevarication, the chair asked Neil Mosley if he wanted to run college sport. Mr Mosley did not quite give an answer although the implication at the end of that discussion was no.
It would seem that College are genuinely interested in furthering sport here, by getting people involved in sport and excelling. The benefits to the college are reputation, both nationally and internationally. However it appears to be very BUSA (British Universities Sports Association) oriented. In the BUSA points league, Imperial is currently 38th and there are many Russell group members above us in the ranking. The SDP can be given a very defined objective – to move Imperial up the BUSA points league. College would be working in collaboration with the Union, to see the development of Sport at Imperial. The college involvement will bring more resources, for example S&L would like to be involved with the IC varsity match, a yearly collision between IC and ICSM, and have offered to underwrite the cost of the match.
However College’s interest would seem to bring conditions, the boat club for example with its generous funding has been under increasing pressure to take part in BUSA competitions. If College increases their sponsorship of sports clubs, it is likely they can expect more pressure to perform well and receive more recommendations for appropriate competitions to attend, along with structured training sessions.
In contrast, the Union is happy for clubs to go and organise their own matches and there are facilities for travel if it is needed. Clubs are free to run training sessions how they wish, and there is no pressure to attend any specific competitions, although attendance of BUSA competitions is well subsidised. Basically, clubs and societies are run by the students and the students decide what the club does and achieves.
How are Clubs and Societies funded? How are facilities allocated?
The Union funds all clubs and societies, unless they find their own sponsorship. The only exception is the Boat club, although there are two clubs that actually use the boathouse in Putney. ICU Boat club and IC Boat club, which consists of members that are not necessarily IC students. The boat club is a very special case as they have a scholarship scheme and are a centre for excellence.
College give the Union a subvention, which is split around the Union, for example for building maintenance, staff payroll and admin. Approximately £300,000 is budgeted for clubs and societies, and any that is not spent is put into Exec Reserves, which is allocated through Exec. For example, Student Activities Committee may make a claim for part of that money at a future date.
Facilities that are managed by Sport and Leisure (S&L), like the Sports Centre are negotiated on an informal basis, although this year’s timetable is basically the same as last year’s timetable. The Union runs the Union and Southside Gyms, and this year have kept the same timetable. The Union pays for all facilities centrally to S&L, with bookings taken at the beginning of the year.
There definitely appears to be a move from the College to become more involved with the Union with regards to coordination of College Sport. However it remains to be seen whether or not the Union will be receiving more money to manage the sports or whether someone will be employed by S&L to realise the SDP.