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SPORTING legend and Team Sky principal Sir Dave Brailsford visited Bangor University last night to open our university sport centre, recently renamed in his honour following a multi-million-pound renovation.

Among the festivities was a chance for members of the student cycling club to ask questions of Sir Dave and the question of "the value of sport" was raised.

Aside from the inevitable thoughts of highly-paid footballers, the value of sport to those involved in higher education sport evokes a deeper response about the life skills and experiences that sport offers to students.

Sport brings an enhancement to the overall student package of university life - but extending this value to the workplace and future earnings has typically been the preserve of anecdotal reports of interview questions and sport-friendly employers. In 2013, this changed with the emergence of powerful data from researchers at Sheffield Hallam University's Sport Industry Research Centre.

Through interviews with more than 5,000 students, graduate employers and vice-chancellors, and using national salary data, the Shef-field team demonstrated that a student who takes a leadership role in a sports club at university can earn an average of PS5,284 per year more than his or her non-sporting peers.

The average starting salary of a sporting graduate was also shown to be around PS3,000 higher than a nonsport-engaged graduate.

The report also showed that over the course of a career, a "sporty" student could expect to see their earnings grow faster than a non-sport player. Perhaps most interestingly, the data also showed that those engaged in sport during their studies were less likely to experience a period of unemployment at a later date. Bangor University has long-recognised the value of sport, which is why sport and activities are intrinsic elements of the student experience.

Bangor was the first public university in the UK to provide free access to all sports and societies through increased direct funding to the students' union. Alongside the growth in club membership, the university has invested heavily in sporting facilities and there is no co-incidence that Bangor is now ranked first in Wales for student satisfaction.

Approximately one-third of the student population at Bangor are actively engaged in one of our 56 sport clubs.

Providing students an opportunity to stay active is a key strategic aim for the sport department and students' union. From next September, this aim will go a step further as all university accommodation will have gym membership included in the package. Students are juggling course demands, part-time jobs and training commitments that rival those of professional teams. High-achievements on and off the pitch demonstrate to employers that university sport is an important addition to an applicant's CV.

Richard Bennett is sports and rec-|reation director at Bangor University.

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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Nov 6, 2014
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